Bird Flu Outbreak Hits Millions of Iowa Hens

Bird Flu Outbreak Hits Millions of Iowa Hens

Nearly 3.8 million egg laying hens in an Iowa flock probably have bird flu it was revealed Tuesday. The biggest single outbreak of the virus reported in the U.S. added to concerns that turkey and egg supplies will be affected by the disease.

“Despite best efforts, we now confirm many of our birds are testing positive” for avian influenza, Sonstegard Foods Co., owner of the flock, said in a statement yesterday. The affected hens are located at its Sunrise Farms unit close to Harris, Iowa, in Osceola County.

As of February 1st the U.S. had 362.1 million egg-laying hens, and Iowa, with approximately 59.6 million, is the state with the most. Commercial turkey flocks with more than 2 million birds in eight states have been reported with the virus by the U.S. Department of Agriculture

“A lot of poultry meat and eggs won’t make it to market,” John Glisson, VP of research at the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, said Tuesday at the National Chicken Council conference in Cambridge, Maryland. U.S. and Canadian authorities are “implementing plans that have been set up for years” to fight disease, he said.

Hormel Foods Corp., the owner of Jennie-O turkeys, announced Monday that its annual profit may be eroded because the virus is hampering production. Data concerning the spread of the virus and its overall trajectory was unavailable at the time of publishing.

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