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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2015 8:29 pm 
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Iowa reports biggest US outbreak of bird flu in poultry
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POSTED: 21 Apr 2015 05:15
UPDATED: 21 Apr 2015 08:16

Iowa, the top US egg-producing state, has found a lethal strain of bird flu in a flock of millions of hens at an egg-laying facility, the worst case so far in a national outbreak that has now prompted Wisconsin to declare a state of emergency.

CHICAGO: CHICAGO: Iowa, the top US egg-producing state, found a lethal strain of bird flu in millions of hens at an egg-laying facility on Monday (Apr 20), the worst case so far in a national outbreak that prompted Wisconsin to declare a state of emergency.

The infected Iowa birds were being raised near the city of Harris by Sunrise Farms, an affiliate of Sonstegard Foods Company, the company said.

The facility houses 3.8 million hens, according to the company, which sells eggs to food manufacturers, government agencies and retailers.

"We went to great lengths to prevent our birds from contracting AI (avian influenza), but despite best efforts we now confirm many of our birds are testing positive," Sonstegard said in a statement.

The flock has been quarantined, and birds on the property will be culled to prevent the spread of the disease, the US Department of Agriculture said. The virus can kill nearly an entire infected flock within 48 hours.

The Agriculture Department said the Iowa flock numbered 5.3 million birds. The larger figure likely represents the capacity of the farm, while the company number was the actual number of birds on site, said Bill Northey, Iowa's secretary of agriculture.

A loss of 3.8 million birds represents more than 6 percent of the egg-laying hens in Iowa and more than 1 percent of the US flock, meaning "there definitely will be some customers that will be impacted by this," Northey said.

Iowa was already among 12 states that have detected bird flu in poultry since the beginning of the year. The other states are Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin.

The Agriculture Department has spent at least US$45 million responding to the US outbreak, including costs for testing, quarantines around infected facilities, and compensation for producers whose birds have been killed by the virus or culled.

The figure does not include the cost to producers from the months of downtime in barns after infections have been detected.

The infections also have hurt the US$5.7 billion US export market for poultry and eggs.

For producers "in the back of their head is how greatly they could be impacted by this disease", Northey said. He did not know the monetary value of the 3.8 million birds.

Bird flu, also called avian influenza or AI, is a viral disease that infects birds. Officials believe wild birds are spreading the virus but they do not know how it is entering barns.

In Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker on Monday declared a state of emergency after three poultry flocks became infected in the past week, according to his office. The infected birds, more than 326,000 in all, were chickens at an egg-laying facility, turkeys and a backyard flock of mixed-breed birds.

Walker has authorized the state's National Guard to help contain the disease, citing "thin" resources available from the federal government. A state spokeswoman said guardsmen would disinfect trucks exiting infected premises.

A spokeswoman for the US Department of Agriculture did not respond to questions about federal resources. The agency has deployed about 60 people to Minnesota, the top US turkey-producing state, which has found more infected flocks than any other state.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the risk for human infections to be low, and no human cases have been reported.

- Reuters/al

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/hea ... 96690.html

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2015 8:32 pm 
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Sectors | Tue Apr 21, 2015 5:19am IST
UPDATE 3-Iowa reports biggest U.S. outbreak of bird flu in poultry
(Adds comments from Iowa agriculture secretary)

By Tom Polansek

(Reuters) - Iowa, the top U.S. egg-producing state, found a lethal strain of bird flu in millions of hens at an egg-laying facility on Monday, the worst case so far in a national outbreak that prompted Wisconsin to declare a state of emergency.

The infected Iowa birds were being raised near the city of Harris by Sunrise Farms, an affiliate of Sonstegard Foods Company, the company said.

The facility houses 3.8 million hens, according to the company, which sells eggs to food manufacturers, government agencies and retailers.

"We went to great lengths to prevent our birds from contracting AI (avian influenza), but despite best efforts we now confirm many of our birds are testing positive," Sonstegard said in a statement.

The flock has been quarantined, and birds on the property will be culled to prevent the spread of the disease, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said. The virus can kill nearly an entire infected flock within 48 hours.

The Agriculture Department said the Iowa flock numbered 5.3 million birds. The larger figure likely represents the capacity of the farm, while the company number was the actual number of birds on site, said Bill Northey, Iowa's secretary of agriculture.

A loss of 3.8 million birds represents more than 6 percent of the egg-laying hens in Iowa and more than 1 percent of the U.S. flock, meaning "there definitely will be some customers that will be impacted by this," Northey said.

Iowa was already among 12 states that have detected bird flu in poultry since the beginning of the year. The other states are Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin.

The Agriculture Department has spent at least $45 million responding to the U.S. outbreak, including costs for testing, quarantines around infected facilities, and compensation for producers whose birds have been killed by the virus or culled. The figure does not include the cost to producers from the months of downtime in barns after infections have been detected.

The infections also have hurt the $5.7 billion U.S. export market for poultry and eggs.

For producers "in the back of their head is how greatly they could be impacted by this disease," Northey said. He did not know the monetary value of the 3.8 million birds.

Bird flu, also called avian influenza or AI, is a viral disease that infects birds. Officials believe wild birds are spreading the virus but they do not know how it is entering barns.

In Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker on Monday declared a state of emergency after three poultry flocks became infected in the past week, according to his office. The infected birds, more than 326,000 in all, were chickens at an egg-laying facility, turkeys and a backyard flock of mixed-breed birds.

Walker has authorized the state's National Guard to help contain the disease, citing "thin" resources available from the federal government. A state spokeswoman said guardsmen would disinfect trucks exiting infected premises.

A spokeswoman for the U.S Department of Agriculture did not respond to questions about federal resources. The agency has deployed about 60 people to Minnesota, the top U.S. turkey-producing state, which has found more infected flocks than any other state.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the risk for human infections to be low, and no human cases have been reported. (Additional reporting by P.J. Huffstutter in Chicago; Editing by Matthew Lewis, Toni Reinhold)

http://in.reuters.com/article/2015/04/2 ... UF20150420

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2015 8:37 pm 
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Second Iowa bird flu outbreak strikes egg facility
Donnelle Eller, The Des Moines Register 6:35 p.m. EDT April 20, 2015

DES MOINES — Iowa has discovered a second outbreak of avian influenza, this time at a commercial chicken laying facility in Osceola County in northwest Iowa, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Monday.

The facility has 5.3 million hens. All the birds in the flock will be euthanized to prevent the spread of the disease, officials said.

Last week, H5N2 avian influenza was discovered in a flock of 27,000 turkeys in Buena Vista County. Those birds also were euthanized. The disease is capable of killing an entire flock within 48 hours.

Scientists and government officials believe the virus is being spread through migratory birds in the Mississippi flyway, where the strain previously has been identified. The birds are believed to transmit the illness through their droppings.

The poultry industry has increased biosecurity efforts. Last week, officials said they were concerned the poultry-killing disease would make its way into the state's commercial egg-laying industry, which is the largest in the nation.

It's a $2 billion industry in Iowa, which has about 50 million hens that lay nearly one in every five eggs consumed in the country.

Federal and state health officials consider the risk to people to be low from these infections in wild birds, backyard flocks and commercial poultry. No human infections with the virus have ever been detected.

The northwest Iowa flock experienced increased mortality and samples were sent to the South Dakota State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory for preliminary testing, the USDA said. The National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames confirmed the findings.

The facility and poultry facilities within 10 kilometers around it have been quarantined. State officials will test commercial and backyard poultry in the area for the disease to determine that they're free of the virus.

The lethal virus strain has been found in several states, including Arkansas, Wisconsin, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. More than 1 million birds have been killed by the disease or by authorities working to prevent it from spreading.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and the Iowa Department of Public Health are working directly with poultry workers at the affected facility to ensure proper precautions are being taken, USDA said.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nati ... /26096703/

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2015 8:41 pm 
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Bird flu hits second chicken flock in U.S. and its largest farm yet

23 minutes ago • JULIE BUNTJER Forum News Service
Image
Shown are barns at the Sunrise Farm egg-laying operation south of Harris in northwest Iowa. It was confirmed Monday that 5.3 million laying hens onsite will need to be humanely euthanized due to the presence of H5N2 avian influenza.

HARRIS, Iowa — Bird flu has hit only the second known chicken flock in the United States and its largest flock so far, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) confirmed Monday.

The highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza struck a commercial egg-laying chicken flock of 5.3 million birds in 25 barns in Osceola County in northwest Iowa not far from the Minnesota border.

The confirmation marks the largest poultry operation in the United States to be struck by the deadly influenza strain since APHIS first reported the presence of H5N2 in the country last December.

While state and federal authorities do not identify the operation that has been struck by the virus, Osceola County is home to just one large egg-laying operation -- the 21-year-old Sunrise Farms near Harris.

According to a press release issued by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the egg-laying flock experienced increased mortality and, as a result, samples were sent to labs at South Dakota State University and then to the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa, and findings were confirmed.

The Ames lab is the only internationally recognized avian influenza reference laboratory in the U.S.

Dustin Vande Hoef, communications director for the Iowa ag department, said late Monday that the farm has been quarantined and birds on the premises will be euthanized as soon as possible to prevent spread of the disease.

“They’re trying to move as quickly as possible just because it is a disease that is hard on the birds,” Vande Hoef said, adding that the farm is working with the USDA.

Vande Hoef said the laying hens in all of the 25 large barns will be humanely euthanized.

“The site is contaminated at this point,” he said.

Unlike turkey barns that have been hit with the avian influenza, where composting of the birds was done onsite, Vande Hoef said Monday he did not yet know how the chickens would be disposed of. Once the birds are cleared from the site, the process of cleaning and disinfecting each of the barns will begin.

Vande Hoef wouldn’t speculate how long it may take before birds could be brought back into the site.

“It will take some time before they are able to operate again,” he said.

Monday’s news came exactly one week after the first reported case of H5N2 avian influenza in Iowa. The deadly virus was reported in a 27,000-head commercial turkey flock in Buena Vista County, also in northwest Iowa, on April 13.

The announcement has put egg-laying facilities on heightened alert in Iowa. The state is home to more than 50 million laying hens, which produce nearly one in every five eggs consumed in the U.S.

Until Monday’s confirmation of the avian influenza in the egg-laying facility near Harris, there had been only one report of the deadly H5N2 avian influenza in a chicken flock, and that was in Wisconsin.

According to the APHIS, chickens afflicted with the avian influenza may show a variety of symptoms, including a lack of energy and appetite; decreased egg production and/or soft-shelled or misshapen eggs; swelling of the head, eyelids, comb, wattles and hocks; a purple discoloration of the wattles, combs and legs; a runny nose, coughing and/or sneezing; stumbling or falling down; diarrhea and sudden death without any clinical signs.

Meanwhile,the Iowa ag department reported Monday that, in partnership with the Iowa Department of Public Health, they are working directly with poultry workers at the site on health and safety precautions.

Vande Hoef said there has been no known impact to the workers, with the risk to people from the infections in wild birds, backyard flocks and commercial poultry, to be low. No human infections with the virus have ever been detected.

Vande Hoef said all poultry producers in the state are “very focused” on biosecurity.

“They all feared this,” he said, adding that they will now have “to reevaluate and focus on making sure everything is clean.”

The virus strains can travel in wild birds without those birds appearing sick. People should avoid contact with sick/dead poultry or wildlife.

All bird owners, whether commercial producers or backyard flock owners, should continue to practice good biosecurity, prevent contact between their birds and wild birds, and report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to state/federal officials through USDA’s toll-free number at 866-536-7593. Additional information on biosecurity for backyard flocks can be found at healthybirds.aphis.usda.gov.

According to the Iowa Area Development Group website, Sunrise Farms began producing eggs in 1994. Two years later, egg grading and packing began, and by 1999 the company began marketing liquid eggs. In 2002, Sunrise Farms had approximately 3 million laying hens and produced 65 million dozen eggs a year. The farm had since expanded to more than 5 million laying hens.


http://bismarcktribune.com/news/state-a ... 57844.html

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2015 2:16 am 
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United States Iowa Farm H5N2 bird flu outbreak

2015-04-21 HKT 13:47
US Department of Agriculture confirmed that an Iowa egg farm produce H5N2 bird flu outbreak, this is located in Osceola County farm, with 25 farms, totaling 5.3 million chickens reared, the relevant authorities in order to avoid bird flu spread among three farms have been fully destroyed chickens, does not preclude the need to destroy more chickens.
Iowa is the nation's largest egg producing states, and the farm has a full states about two percent of the hens.

Minnesota and Wisconsin, recently, there are farm outbreak of bird flu, the authorities need to make in Minnesota destroyed 1.7 million turkeys, Wisconsin governor but also because there are three counties outbreak of bird flu, yesterday declared a state of emergency, the use of National Guard troops to help out with a few being destroyed hundreds of thousands of chickens and turkeys.

http://rthk.hk/rthk/news/expressnews/20 ... 093674.htm

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2015 2:48 am 
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5 Million Iowa Hens to Be Euthanized After Bird Flu Found
Sarah Begley @SCBegley April 20, 2015
It's the second recent outbreak in the state

An Iowa egg-laying facility found to have chickens infected with bird flu will see all 5.3 million of its hens euthanized to prevent the spread of the disease, agriculture officials said Monday, following an initial avian influenza outbreak discovered elsewhere in the state last week.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed the outbreak, which officials believe is being spread by migratory birds, the Des Moines Register reports. Just last week, an Iowa turkey farm had to kill 27,000 birds after the virus was detected.

While health officials say H5N2 presents a low risk to humans, the epidemic could be a big problem for Iowa farmers, as their nearly 50 million hens provide one out of five eggs consumed in America.

http://time.com/3829032/iowa-bird-flu/?xid=gonewsedit

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2015 2:52 am 
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Bird flu takes biggest toll yet as virus hits chicken farms
BY STEVE KARNOWSKI
Associated Press
April 21, 2015 Updated 45 minutes ago

MINNEAPOLIS — Poultry producers and scientists have been hoping warmer weather would knock down a virulent strain of bird flu that has hammered the Midwest, but the virus recently took its biggest toll yet, hitting a farm in Iowa that held nearly 10 percent of the state's egg-laying chickens. Here are some questions and answers about the outbreak:

WHAT'S THE LATEST?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Monday that the deadly H5N2 bird flu virus was found at a farm in northwest Iowa's Osceola County. The confirmation means up to 5.3 million hens there must be destroyed in a state that produces one in every five eggs consumed in the country. Seven other Midwestern states have been hit by the virus, dooming nearly 7.8 million turkeys and chickens since March.

WHAT'S THE OUTLOOK?

U.S. Department of Agriculture officials say the virus could be a problem for several years. The USDA's chief veterinary officer, Dr. John Clifford, also said last week that while new cases should drop to close to zero once the weather warms up and kills off the virus, there's "very likely" to be a resurgence this fall when the wild waterfowl that are natural carriers of avian influenza fly south for the winter.

WHAT KIND OF FLU IS THIS, EXACTLY?

H5N2 is a highly contagious virus that kills commercial poultry quickly once it gets into a barn. But the risk to the public is considered low, and infected birds are kept out of the food supply.

WHERE IS THIS TURNING UP, AND IN WHAT KINDS OF BIRDS?

Only two egg operations have been hit — the one in Iowa and one in Wisconsin. Except for a couple backyard flocks, all the other cases in the Midwest have been at commercial turkey farms. Minnesota has had 28 turkey farms hit, far more than any other state. Officials say that's because Minnesota is the top turkey producing state, and its thousands of lakes and ponds are attractive to migrating ducks and other waterfowl. H5N2 and other highly pathogenic strains have also been found since late last year among wild birds, backyard flocks and commercial farms in some western states and British Columbia.

AREN'T MOST COMMERCIAL POULTRY BARNS SHUT TIGHT TO KEEP DISEASES OUT?

They are. Poultry farms with good biosecurity strictly limit who's allowed in. Workers often have to shower on their way in and out, wear protective coveralls and step in disinfectant to kill viruses on their boots. Equipment coming in and out is typically sanitized. But the system doesn't always work. Experts say it requires everyone to do everything right all the time. Plus rodents and wild birds that sneak into a barn can bring in the virus.

SO WHAT HAPPENS TO THESE TURKEYS WHEN BIRD FLU ARRIVES?

They die, and quickly. Less severe symptoms can be similar to colds and flu in humans, or a flock turning quiet. Vaccines have been used around the world to protect flocks against various bird flu strains ahead of time, but this strain is new to North America. Once an infection is confirmed at a farm, all surviving birds on the property are typically killed to prevent it from spreading. These flocks are usually killed by pumping a water-based foam into the barn, following guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The foam suffocates the birds within minutes.

OH. SO WHAT DO THEY DO WITH ALL THESE DEAD BIRDS?

They compost them — usually right in the same barn where they died. Composting is a widely used and approved method throughout the industry to dispose of dead birds. Studies show that properly done, the heat generated by composting is enough to kill flu viruses and other pathogens commonly present in poultry such as salmonella. The compost then can be safely spread as fertilizer.

DO THESE OUTBREAKS WIPE OUT AFFECTED FARMERS?

An outbreak that kills tens of thousands of birds certainly can cost a farm dearly. The government doesn't compensate producers for birds that die of the disease itself, but it does reimburse them for birds that have to be euthanized as a precaution. That gives farmers an incentive to report suspected outbreaks and deal with them swiftly.

SO DOES THIS MEAN I'LL BE PAYING MORE FOR TURKEY, EGGS AND CHICKEN?

Probably not in the near term. The toll nationwide represents just a small part of U.S. production. Hormel Foods Corp., which owns Jennie-O, said Monday that it will sell less turkey this year because of the outbreaks but that it can't comment now on how retail prices or the holiday season will be affected. But don't worry about Thanksgiving yet. Turkey prices around the holidays often have nothing to do with the costs of production. Retailers often sell turkeys at a loss just to draw in customers who'll stock up on stuffing mix, cranberries, sweet potatoes, pies and other traditional favorites.

Read more here: http://www.bradenton.com/2015/04/21/575 ... rylink=cpy

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2015 2:59 am 
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Bird flu hits second chicken flock, largest U.S. farm yet
By Forum News Service Today at 12:57 a.m.
By Julie Buntjer

HARRIS, Iowa — Bird flu has hit only the second known chicken flock in the United States and its largest flock so far, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service confirmed Monday.

The highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza struck a commercial egg-laying chicken flock of 5.3 million birds in 25 barns in Osceola County in northwest Iowa not far from the Minnesota border.

The confirmation marks the largest poultry operation in the United States to be struck by the deadly influenza strain since APHIS first reported the presence of H5N2 in the country in December.

While state and federal authorities do not identify the operation that has been struck by the virus, Osceola County is home to just one large egg-laying operation — the 21-year-old Sunrise Farms near Harris.

According to a news release issued by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the egg-laying flock experienced increased mortality and, as a result, samples were sent to labs at South Dakota State University and then to the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa, and findings were confirmed.

The Ames lab is the only internationally recognized avian influenza reference laboratory in the U.S.

Dustin Vande Hoef, communications director for the Iowa Agriculture Department, said late Monday that the farm has been quarantined and birds on the premises will be euthanized as soon as possible to prevent spread of the disease.

“They’re trying to move as quickly as possible just because it is a disease that is hard on the birds,” Vande Hoef said, adding that the farm is working with the USDA.

Vande Hoef said the laying hens in all of the 25 large barns will be humanely euthanized.

“The site is contaminated at this point,” he said.

Unlike turkey barns that have been hit with the avian influenza, where composting of the birds was done onsite, Vande Hoef said Monday he did not yet know how the chickens would be disposed of. Once the birds are cleared from the site, the process of cleaning and disinfecting each of the barns will begin.

Vande Hoef wouldn’t speculate how long it may take before birds could be brought back into the site.

“It will take some time before they are able to operate again,” he said.

Monday’s news came exactly one week after the first reported case of H5N2 avian influenza in Iowa. The deadly virus was reported in a 27,000-head commercial turkey flock in Buena Vista County, also in northwest Iowa, on April 13.

The announcement has put egg-laying facilities on heightened alert in Iowa. The state is home to more than 50 million laying hens, which produce nearly one in every five eggs consumed in the U.S.

Until Monday’s confirmation of the avian influenza in the egg-laying facility near Harris, there had been only one report of the deadly H5N2 avian influenza in a chicken flock, and that was in Wisconsin.

According to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, chickens afflicted with the avian influenza may show a variety of symptoms, including a lack of energy and appetite; decreased egg production and/or soft-shelled or misshapen eggs; swelling of the head, eyelids, comb, wattles and hocks; a purple discoloration of the wattles, combs and legs; a runny nose, coughing and/or sneezing; stumbling or falling down; diarrhea and sudden death without any clinical signs.

Meanwhile,the Iowa Ag Department reported Monday that, in partnership with the Iowa Department of Public Health, they are working directly with poultry workers at the site on health and safety precautions.

Vande Hoef said there has been no known impact to the workers, with the risk to people from the infections in wild birds, backyard flocks and commercial poultry, to be low. No human infections with the virus have ever been detected.

Vande Hoef said all poultry producers in the state are “very focused” on biosecurity.

“They all feared this,” he said, adding that they will now have “to reevaluate and focus on making sure everything is clean.”

The virus strains can travel in wild birds without those birds appearing sick. People should avoid contact with sick/dead poultry or wildlife.

All bird owners, whether commercial producers or backyard flock owners, should continue to practice good biosecurity, prevent contact between their birds and wild birds, and report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to state/federal officials through USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593.Additional information on biosecurity for backyard flocks can be found at healthybirds.aphis.usda.gov.

According to the Iowa Area Development Group website, Sunrise Farms began producing eggs in 1994. Two years later, egg grading and packing began, and by 1999 the company began marketing liquid eggs. In 2002, Sunrise Farms had approximately 3 million laying hens and produced 65 million dozen eggs a year. The farm had since expanded to more than 5 million laying hens.

http://www.wctrib.com/news/state/372725 ... s-farm-yet

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2015 3:02 am 
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Bird flu hits Iowa chickens as virus outbreak escalates

Published: Apr 21, 2015 12:42 a.m. ET

By JACOB BUNGE

An Iowa farm’s flock of about 5.3 million chickens has been hit with avian influenza, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Monday, marking a sharp escalation of the virus outbreak that has rattled the poultry industry since it began late last year.

The affected flock, based in Iowa’s Osceola County, is by itself nearly twice the number of birds previously reported to have been affected, and brings the total number of chickens and turkeys affected by avian influenza to nearly 8 million.

Authorities didn’t immediately name the farm that owns the affected flock. The Iowa Poultry Association said the farm supplies eggs for consumption and processing, and that all eggs from the farm have been gathered and quarantined.

Poultry companies and animal-health officials are struggling to respond to the worst outbreak of avian influenza in years, with cases in upper Midwest states like Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa rapidly mounting over the past two weeks.

No human cases of the avian influenza virus have been detected in the U.S., and it poses a low risk to human health, USDA officials have said.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/bird-f ... 2015-04-21

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2015 3:05 am 
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5.3 mn hens to be culled as huge bird flu outbreak reported in Iowa
Published time: April 21, 2015 04:03 Get short URL
Reuters/Randall Hill Reuters/Randall Hill

More than five million hens will be euthanized at an Iowa egg-laying facility after the majority of them were found to be contaminated with a lethal strain of avian influenza, or bird flu. It is the worst outbreak yet to be recorded in the US.

This is the second time a bird flu epidemic has been reported in Iowa, which provides almost 20 percent of all eggs that are consumed in the United States.

The facility involved can house up to 5.3 million hens, though there are conflicting accounts about how many birds are currently at the farm. Reuters reports that 3.8 million hens are at the facility and will be culled, while the local Des Moines Register says there are 5.3 million birds that will be destroyed.

Iowa is home to more than 58 million egg-laying hens, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

Officials didn’t identify the facility in question, however Reuters states it is Sunrise Farms, an affiliate of Sonstegard Foods Company.

"We went to great lengths to prevent our birds from contracting AI (avian influenza), but despite [our] best efforts we [can] now confirm many of our birds are testing positive," Sonstegard said in a statement to the news outlet.


Around 2.6 million hens have already been killed, either by the disease or by officials trying to keep it from spreading further, the Des Moines Register stated. If the problem is not addressed quickly, bird flu is capable of destroying an entire flock in less than 48 hours.

The authorities have not pinpointed the source of the bird flu, which is believed to have spread from hen to hen via bird droppings. There is a theory it could have originated from wild birds traveling through the Mississippi flyway, a migratory path that stretches from the Mississippi River up to Canada’s Mackenzie River.

The crisis is serious enough that Wisconsin, which has also reported a bird flu outbreak, has declared a state of emergency.

"We must act quickly and efficiently to contain the outbreak and protect domestic poultry," Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) said in a statement. "It is important to note, however, there is no threat to humans with the avian flu outbreak."

Randy Gordon of the Iowa Poultry Association also reiterated that “the food supply is safe” to the Wall Street Journal. Officials said human infections of bird flu have not been reported.

"Anybody that has a poultry operation — whether large or small, whether you've got hundreds of birds or one bird — this should be a wake-up call," Randy Olson, executive director of the Iowa Poultry Association, told the Des Moines Register.

http://rt.com/usa/251485-millions-hens- ... -bird-flu/

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