Avian flu impacting poultry, egg prices

(KWQC Photo)
(KWQC Photo)

MOLINE, Ill. (KWQC) — Millions of chickens and turkeys have been killed because of bird flu. The Iowa Secretary of Agriculture says this is the worst outbreak in U.S. History. The impact is starting to show up in grocery stores as poultry and egg prices start to increase.

Jeremy House of Meadow Haven Farm delivers orders to Quad City customers this day out of the back of his truck. Eggs, pork chops, and sausage. In a few weeks, he’ll be getting ready for Thanksgiving, raising turkeys…

“From the middle of July to Thanksgiving,” says House.

It takes House about six months to raise 400 turkeys for Thanksgiving dinner. He says the farmers impacted by bird flu have to confront the biology to get back in business.

“It takes that five to six months to raise it, but they’d have to clean the barn out and then, ideally you would start raising the birds when its warm out,” says House.

Warmer temperatures are supposed to halt the bird flu virus which scientists say is spreading by way of the Mississippi flyway. That’s the migratory route for birds along the Mississippi River.

“During the season we raise about 5,000 to 6,000 broiler, meat chickens, and we have about 2,000 laying hens,” says House.

The number of birds impacted in Iowa has jumped in recent weeks. It has risen from four million birds on April 20 to 24 million as of Friday.

“It’s getting more attention just because you know two weeks ago, it was about four million birds, now they’re talking about 25 million birds, so it’s starting to become more and more on my radar,” says House.

It’s on the minds of poultry producers throughout the Midwest. Commercial farms can get chickens to market in five weeks and turkeys in 15. However, we’re only halfway through that time period for the Iowa farms suffering the first infections.

“If you had to destroy your flock in say October, November, I wouldn’t start another flock until you could raise them in the summer,” says House.

It takes time for the disease to stop spreading and for the flocks to recover. Time for prices to fluctuate.

Nebraska reported its first case of bird flu on a farm with 1.7 million chickens. No new cases were reported in Wisconsin.

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