Egg Week

08/04/2022

USDA Weekly Egg Price and Inventory Report, August 4th 2022.

 

Market Overview

  • Average wholesale unit revenue for Midwest Extra-large and Large sizes was lower by 10 cents per dozen or 3.1 percent from the past week ending a seven-week unprecedented upward trend. Mediums were up by 2.6 percent but at a lower trajectory upwards from the past week, indicating greater supply in this category as pullets commence production. Retail sales are projected to be relatively lower over the short term given stock levels but sustained by consumer perceptions of value in an inflationary environment. Prices are influenced by previous depletion of more than 31.1 million hens mainly in 13 large complexes in nine states extending from the last week in February through the first week in June. In the unlikely event of additional cases of HPAI in egg complexes, availability will be more severely impacted especially in the breaking sector.
  • Industry inventory increased 4.8 percent overall this past week to 1.76 million cases with a 6.9 percent increase in shell eggs and a concurrent 3.3 percent decrease in breaking stock. Wholesale unit prices during the first half of 2022 through July contrasted favorably with the corresponding periods in both 2020 and 2021 that were characterized by low ex-plant unit revenue. Wholesale Midwest prices are still yielding unusually high positive margins, despite the USDA benchmark average combined costs of nest-run at 83.0 cents per dozen in June (feed, chicks, housing, labor and fuel), in addition to the average cost of grading, packaging and delivery amounting to approximately 50 cents per dozen according to the EIC.
  • It is now apparent that the inventory held by chains and other significant distributors may be more important in establishing wholesale price than the USDA regional inventory figures published weekly, especially over the short term. The seasonal strategy of retailers is to adjust purchases only in response to retail demand and to hold down inventories in their DCs and stores while marking up shelf margins and pressuring suppliers for rapid replenishment of stocks to DCs and through DSD. Market data suggests that chains have priced generic white eggs in response to prevailing demand and are infrequently featuring Large or Extra large.
  • Due to the depletion of more than 31.1 million hens through June 6th resulting from HPAI, unseasonal unit revenue will now be a reality through August and presumably extending through mid-summer with prices declining as flocks are replenished as noted during the past week. Retailers are expected to maximize shelf prices in relation to demand
  • The current relationship between producers and chain buyers based on a single price discovery system constitutes an impediment to a free market. The benchmark price amplifies both downward and upward swings as at present and functions to the detriment of the industry over the long term. A CME quotation based on Midwest Large, responding to demand relative to supply would be more equitable.
  • According to the USDA the U.S. flock in production was up 0.5 million or 0.2 percent to 295.0 million hens during the week ending August 3rd. This figure presumably reflects the loss of 31.1 million hens to date, depopulated as a result of confirmed HPAI. The producing flock includes about 3.0 million molted hens that resumed laying during the past week plus 4.0 million pullets attaining production.
  • There is some prospect of a return in the food service sector but with frozen and dried egg prices stable or moderately lower over the past three weeks. The ex-farm price for breaking stock on average was unchanged this past week to 225.0 cents per dozen. Checks delivered to Midwest plants were down 2.3 percent to 214.0 cents per dozen. Prices for breaking stock will remain high in relation to season for the duration of the recovery period from the epornitic while replacement flocks are reared, reminiscent of 2015-2016.

 

Week in Review

Prices

According to the USDA Egg Market News Reports released on August 1st, the Midwest wholesale price for Extra-large was down 3.1 percent to $3.15 cents per dozen; Large size was down 3.1 percent to $3.13 cents per dozen; Mediums were up 2.6 percent to $2.14 cents per dozen as delivered to DCs. Prices should be compared to the USDA benchmark average 6-Region blended nest-run cost of 83.0 cents per dozen (excluding provisions for packing, packaging materials and transport amounting to 50 cents per dozen according to the EIC) during June 2022. The progression of prices during 2022 to date is depicted in the USDA chart reflecting three years of data, updated weekly.

 

 The August 1st 2022 edition of the USDA Egg Market News Report documented a USDA Combined Region value rounded to the nearest cent, of $3.34 per dozen delivered to warehouses for the week ending July 27th 2022. This average price lags current Midwest weekly values by one week. The USDA Combined range for Large in the Midwest was $3.23 per dozen. At the high end of the range, price in the South Central Region attained $3.43 per dozen. The USDA Combined Price last week was approximately $2.64 above the 3-year average. This past week Midwest Large was approximately $2.32 above the corresponding week in 2021. Prices rose this week due to increased demand and the realization by chain buyers of the effect on supply following the depletion of 31.1 million hens due to HPAI. Future cases of avian influenza in egg-production complexes are unlikely but diagnoses in backyard flocks in numerous states and on three turkey units in Utah during July denote continued shedding by migratory waterfowl and possibly domestic wild birds in segments of the Central and Pacific Flyways and sectors of the Mississippi Flyway. Spillover to commercial egg, turkey and broiler flocks may continue as isolated sporadic infections that hopefully will be contained. Prices appear to be following the trend of the 2015 epornitic although for a relatively longer period and at a higher level.

 

Flock Size 

The USDA has adjusted the estimate of flock size to reflect depopulation of more than 31.1 million hens through June 6th due to HPAI. According to the USDA the number of producing hens reflecting August 3rd (rounded to 0.1 million) was up 0.5 million or 0.2 percent to 295.0 million. The total U.S. flock includes about 3.0 million molted hens due to come back into production with approximately 4.0 million new pullets reaching maturity during the week, offset by routine flock depletion in addition to losses over the past three months due to HPAI. Based on inventory level the hen population producing eggs should now be in balance with consumer demand during mid summer. Industrial and food service off-take although increasing, has not reverted to pre-COVID levels. Imbalance between supply and demand drove prices upwards to 2015 epornitic levels as recorded during April through July. During August prices will continue to fluctuate from week to week but will enter a decline through the third quarter as flocks are replaced and demand ebbs. Prices of shell eggs and products will however depend on the contribution of new pullets and molted hens. The prospect of incident cases of HPAI in large complexes is unlikely moving through August.

 

According to the USDA the total U.S. egg-flock on August 3rd was raised 0.5 million to 300.1 million hens including second-cycle birds and those in molt. The nominal difference of 5.1 million between hens in production and total hens is an approximate figure but denotes more molted hens due to resume production. At present there are at least 31.1 million fewer hens in both the total and producing flocks with the difference equivalent to 10.7 percent of the pre-HPAI national flock.

 

INVENTORY LEVELS

Cold storage stocks of frozen products in selected regions on August 2nd 2022 amounted to 2.498 million pounds (1,135 metric tons) of frozen egg products, 1.1 percent lower than the inventory of 2.526 million lbs. on July 1st 2022. The monthly USDA Cold Storage Report below quantifies a reduction in the actual total stock level.

 

The most recent monthly USDA Cold Storage Report released on July 22nd 2022 documented a total stock of 23.7 million pounds (10,766 metric tons) of frozen egg products on June 30th 2022. This value was down 7.0 percent from the June 30th 2021 value of 25.3 million pounds.

 

June 30th frozen egg inventory was up 7.9 percent from May 31st 2022 despite depletion of 31.1 million hens. Compared to June 30th 2021 yolks were up 44.2 percent to 870 million lbs.

 

A total of 85.4 percent of combined inventory (20.24 million lbs.) comprised the categories of “Whole and Mixed” (33.7 percent) and “Unclassified” (51.7 percent). The lack of specificity in classification suggests a potentially big omelet somewhere requiring a more diligent approach to enumerating and reporting inventory by the USDA

 

Shell Inventory

The USDA reported that the national stock of generic shell eggs effective August 1st 2022 was up by 4.8 percent after an increase of 3.9 percent during the previous week. This reflects fluctuating weekly reordering by chains with presumed slightly lower demand. Combined with breaking stock, the total inventory of shell eggs in the industry is now at 1.76 million cases (1.68 million last week, up 81,600 cases). The U.S. population of laying hens at this time is influenced by hens culled due to HPAI, and includes the population unaffected by HPAI, flocks retained after molting (with an anticipated increase in this category depending on available housing capacity) and started pullets from chick placements in January 2022. Going forward, older hens will assume a larger proportion of the national flock as more flocks are molted especially as “at risk” pullet flocks have been depleted due to HPAI.

 

All six USDA Regions reported higher stock levels. These are listed in descending order of stock:-

  • The Midwest Region was up 9.1 percent compared to the previous week to 458,100 cases.
  • The South Central Region up 11.0 percent to 293,600 cases
  • The Southeast Region was up 3.3 percent to 257,500 cases
  • The Northeast Region was up 5.1 percent to 171,600 cases.
  • The Southwest Region was up 3.4 percent to 168,000 cases
  • The Northwest Region was up 3.4 percent to 94,900 cases

 

The total USDA six-area stock of commodity eggs comprised 1,764,100 cases, up 4.8 percent, of which 81.8 percent were shell eggs (80.3 percent last week). The inventory of breaking stock was down 3.3 percent to 320,400 cases. Shell eggs were up by 6.9 percent to 1,443,700 cases. The lower level of breaking stock suggests more diversion of uncommitted eggs to the shell market but with a constant or lower demand for liquids. This conclusion is supported by sustained higher prices for shell eggs compared to breaking stock. The price for checks and breaking stock combined is now about 68 percent of the average value of Extra large and Large shell eggs combined (last week 68 percent compared to 80 percent in May). The price for breaking stock and for checks is influenced by the relative demand for generic shell eggs and contract obligations with breakers. This past week Extra large and Large shell eggs declined by 3.1 percent in wholesale price compared to breaking stock unchanged and checks that were down by 2.3 percent.

 

On August 1st 2022 the inventory of other than generic eggs (with the previous week in parentheses) comprised:-

  • Specialty category, up 2.2 percent to 35,700 cases. (was up 10.1 % to 34,900 cases)
  • Certified Organic, down 9.4 percent to 100,100 cases. (was up 1.6 % to 110,500 cases)
  • Cage-Free category, up 4.3 percent to 293,700 cases. (was up 4.3 % to 281,600 cases)

 

Demand for cage-free product will not increase materially while generic eggs from caged flocks and surplus down-classified cage-free eggs are on the shelf at $1.70 to $1.90 per dozen during normal supply conditions and over the long term. Existing and proposed individual state legislation mandating sale of only cage-free eggs will support most of the anticipated transition from cages but total re-housing will not be completed, if ever, by the beginning of 2025, less than 29 months away. The California Department of Food and Agriculture has issued a revised draft of regulations based on Proposition #12 for comment but the Agency is two years late in releasing a final version resulting in a court-ordered moratorium on implementation for sow housing. The constitutional status of Proposition #12 will be considered by SCOTUS in October with specific consideration of the Dormant Commerce Clause relating to interstate trade. With the current proportion of non-caged flocks, cage-free eggs are surplus to demand in some areas and are becoming a commodity in many markets subjected to the same price pressures as generic eggs from caged hens. Growth in demand for organic product has been static for months.

 

Long-term demand for cage-free eggs is influenced by the relative shelf prices of the category in comparison with generic white-shelled eggs from caged flocks. At the other end of the price range, consumers will purchase less-expensive brown cage-free product over organic eggs when there is a differential in price greater than about $1.20 per dozen under normal balance between supply and demand. Similarly, consumers will traditionally purchase white-shelled generic eggs in preference to brown-shelled cage-free with a differential of over $1.20 per dozen.

 

The need for comprehensive structured statistically relevant market research on the willingness to pay for attributes such as housing, shell color, GM status and nutritional enrichment is self-evident. As in 2015, the ongoing 2022 HPAI epornitic will provide a valuable opportunity for economists to determine the price elasticity for eggs provided funding is made available to agricultural economists at Midwest Land Grant University.

 

RELATIVE PRICES OF SHELL-EGG CATEGORIES

USDA-AMS posted the following July 29th national retail shell egg prices on the Egg Markets Overview report for dozen cartons with comparable prices in parentheses for the previous week:-

Large generic white $1.26 down 30.0 percent ($1.80)

Large cage-free $2.70 down 10.6 percent ($3.02)

National loose, (FOB dock) $2.59 down 8.5 percent ($2.83)

NYC to retailer $3.23 down 5.8 percent ($3.43)

Midwest to warehouse $3.24 up 2.5 percent ($3.16)

California $3.70 up 3.1 percent ($3.59)

 

The following advertised retail prices for the week ending August 4th 2022, (compared with the previous week in parentheses) were posted by the AMS on August 1st for dozen packs:

USDA Certified Organic, Brown, Large: $4.44 ($4.10)

Cage-Free Brown, Large: $3.48 ($3.02)

Omega-3 Enriched Specialty, White, Large: $2.82 ($2.81)

Generic White, Large Grade A $1.99 ($2.50)

Generic White, Large Grade A (Feature price) $1.26 ($1.80)

* Adjusted USDA price

 

Advertised price this week for Large white grade A was down $0.51 per dozen from a USDA value of $2.50 per dozen to $1.99 per dozen. Lower shelf prices will probably increase demand for generic categories given increased availability and higher advertised shelf prices for cage-free brown eggs. Current supply is probably now in balance with demand over a two-week period as the industry continues to divert fewer shell eggs to breaking and to continue delivering to DCs and stores to replenish inventory. This is consistent with a 4.8 percent increase in total industry stock compared to an increase of 3.9 percent for the previous week. Demand for shell eggs remains moderately high coupled with reduced supply as a result of outbreaks of HPAI that ended during the first week of June affecting both in-line breakers and shell egg segments of the industry. Retail demand will continue to be supported by home cooking and baking and reinforced by dining out as COVID is now ignored although purchases will be limited among some demographics by inflation.

 

For the current week the USDA benchmark-advertised retail price of brown Cage-Free was up as documented by the USDA by 15.2 percent or $0.46 cent per dozen to $3.48 per dozen. (last week USDA advertised price was $3.02 per dozen). Advertised promotional price for certified organic was up by 8.3 percent or $0.34 per dozen to $4.44 compared to the previous week at $4.10 per dozen. This week the difference in advertised price between cage-free brown and certified organic was $0.96 per dozen ($1.08 per dozen last week) suggesting higher demand for certified organic over cage-free brown during the current week. Large week-to-week percentage fluctuations can be expected in the stock of specialty and organic eggs based on the small base of these categories.

 

Cage-free white was advertised at $4.55 per dozen, $1.07 higher than cage-free brown at $3.48 per dozen.

 

Features for the major categories this week by proportion included Organic (13.6 percent down considerably from 34.4 percent last week); Cage-free (24.4 percent, up from 16.0 percent) and Omega-3 enriched, (24.0 percent, almost unchanged from 24.5 percent). Other categories amounted to 38.0 percent of features with Large at 25.5 percent and Mediums at 6.1 percent of all advertised promotions denoting the beginning of promoting generic categories.

 

USDA Cage-Free Data

According to the latest monthly USDA Cage-free Hen Report released on August 1st 2022, the number of certified organic hens during July 2022 was down 0.6 percent from June 2022 to 17.9 million. This is 1.1 percent lower than the average of 18.1 million during Q2 of 2022.

 

The USDA reported the cage-free (non-organic) flock to be 1.6 percent higher to 87.0 million in July 2022 compared to June. This is 1.4 percent higher than the average of 88.2 million during Q2 of 2022.

 

According to the USDA the population of hens producing cage-free and certified organic eggs in July 2022 comprised:-

Total U.S. flock held for USDA Certified Organic production = 17.9 million (18.1 million in Q2 2022).

Total U.S. flock held for cage-free production = 87.0 million (88.2 million in Q2 2022).

Total U.S. non-caged flock =104.9 million (106.3 million in Q2 2022).

 

This total value represents 32.3 percent (last month 32.0 percent) of a nominal 324 million total U.S. flock (but 35.0 percent of the national flock after HPAI mortality to 300 million). Hens certified under the USDA Organic program have decreased in proportion to cage-free flocks since Q1 of 2021.

 

The accuracy of individual monthly values is questioned given a history of either sharp changes or no change in successive months as documented over the past two years. Precise quarterly reports would be more suitable for the industry in planning expansion and allocation of capital.

 

Processed Eggs

For the processing week ending July 30th 2022 the quantity of eggs processed under FSIS inspection during the week as reported on August 3rd 2022 was up 0.6 percent compared to the previous processing week to a level of 1,505,113 cases (1,495,701 cases last week). The proportion of eggs broken by in-line complexes was 48.7 percent (48.1 percent for the past week) almost the same, denoting relatively little change in the use of in-line eggs. The relative prices of eggs for shell sales and breaking will determine the movement of uncommitted eggs. This past week 68.3 percent of egg production was directed to the shell market, (68.5 percent for the previous week) consistent with relatively similar prices offered by shell egg packers. Breaking stock inventory was down 3.3 percent this past week to 320,400 cases. There is evidence of a slight recovery in the food service sector, especially for QSRs and casual dining, complemented by increased demand from baking and eat-at-home. During the corresponding processing week in 2020 (during-COVID) in-line breakers processed 53.9 percent of eggs broken.

 

For the most recent monthly report dated July 25th 2022, yield from 7,205,231 cases (5,925,598 cases last month) denoted a decrease in demand for liquid over the period May 29th 2022 through July 2nd 2022. Edible yield was 41.1 percent, distributed in the following proportions expressed as percentages:- liquid whole, 62.0; white, 23.8; yolk, 11.2; dried, 2.8.

 

All eggs broken during 2021 attained 77.8 million cases, 2.6 percent more than 2020. Eggs broken in 2022 to date attained 44.96 million cases, 2.8 percent more than for the corresponding period in 2021. This is attributed to increasing demand for egg liquids from retail, food service and QSRs and casual dining restaurants with restoration of service as COVID restrictions are relaxed, despite inflation. Demand has however tapered lower since May.

 

Consumption of liquids is still moderately constrained by COVID-19 home-cooking resulting in diversion of breaking stock into the shell market partly balanced by a large reduction in hens dedicated to breaking.

 

PRODUCTION AND PRICES

Breaking Stock

The average price for breaking stock was unchanged this past week at an average of 225.0 cents per dozen with a narrow range of 224 to 226 cents per dozen delivered to Central States plants on August 1st. Checks were down 2.3 percent this past week to an average of 214.0 cents per dozen over a narrow range of 213 to 215 cents per dozen. Average revenue for both breaking stock and checks should be compared to the USDA average benchmark production cost for nest-run Large, estimated by the USDA at 83.0 cents per dozen for June 2022.

 

Shell Eggs

The USDA Egg Market News Report dated August 1st 2022 confirmed that Midwest prices for Extra Large and Large sizes were down on average by 3.1 percent compared to the previous week. Mediums were higher by 2.6 percent. The trend in prices coupled with an increase in inventory suggests fluctuating values trending lower but with unseasonably high prices extending through August albeit with declines from present values.

 

The following table lists the “most frequent” ranges of values as delivered to warehouses*:-

Size/Type

Current Week

Previous Week

Extra Large

313-316 cents per dozen

323-326 down 3.1%

Large

311-314 cents per dozen

321-324 down 3.1%

Medium

200-203 cents per dozen

195-198 up 2.6%

Certified Organic EL

275-310 cents per dozen

Unchanged long term

Breaking stock

224-226 cents per dozen

Unchanged

Checks

213-215 cents per dozen

213-225 down 2.3%

*Store Delivery approximately 5 cents per dozen more than warehouse price

 

The August 1st 2022 Midwest Regional (IA, WI, MN.) average FOB producer prices, for nest-run, grade-quality white shelled eggs, with prices in rounded cents per dozen were 6.6 percent lower from last week, with the previous week in parentheses:-

  1. $3.00 ($3.10), (estimated by proportion): L. $2.85 ($3.05): M. $1.82 ($1.82)

 

The August 1st 2022 California price per dozen for cage-free, certified as Proposition #12-compliant product in cartons delivered to a DC, (with the previous week in parentheses) confirmed Large size down 3.2 percent for the week on reduced concern over HPAI.

  1. $3.62 ($3.72); L. $3.60 ($3.72); M. $2.49 ($2.44)

(See the text, tables and figures and the review of production data and prices comprising the USDA Report for June and the 1st Quarter results for Cal-Maine Foods under the Statistics Tab)

 

Shell-Egg Demand Indicator

The USDA-AMS Shell Egg Demand Indicator for August 3rd was down 6.5 points from the last weekly report to 0.2 with a 6.9 percent increase in shell inventory from the past week as determined by the USDA-ERS as follows:- 

 

Productive flock

294,980.863 million hens

Average hen week production

82.7%(was 82.8%)

Average egg production

243,929,736 per day

Proportion to shell egg market

68.3% (was 67.6%)

Total for in-shell consumption

 462,566 cases per day

USDA Inventory

1,443,700 cases

26-week rolling average inventory

4.96 days

Actual inventory on hand

4.95 days

Shell Egg Demand Indicator

0.2 points (was 6.7 on July 27th 2022)

Note 1: USDA Flock numbers were adjusted after incident cases of HPAI in mid-May. The hen population takes into account the depletion of approximately 31.1 million hens following HPAI outbreaks in thirteen large complexes and eight smaller units in nine states.

 

Dried Egg Products

The USDA extreme range in prices for dried albumen and yolk products in $ per pound was released on July 29th. Data is depicted for the previous week and past months to illustrate the trend in prices following HPAI depopulations:-

 

Whole Egg

$12.05-$13.50

Average June $14.71

March $7.68 

Yolk

No quotation, past week

$13.10-$13.90

Average June $13.50

March $6.37 

Spray-dried white

No quotation, past week

 $13.00-$15.15

Average June $17.23

March $9.81

Blends

No quotation

 

Frozen Egg Products

The USDA range in prices for frozen egg products in cents per lb. on July 29th 2022 compared to the previous week were on average lower but indicating a balance between available products and demand from the manufacturing and retail sectors:-

 

Whole Egg

$2.20 - $2.30

$2.20 - $2.35

White

$1.40 - $1.60

$1.40 - $1.65

Average for Yolks

$3.60 - $3.65

$3.60 - $3.65

The USDA has not released a report on dried egg inventory since March 13th 2020 due to an inability to obtain data from producers, and will not issue reports for the immediate future.

 

COMMENTS

Prevalence rates from APHIS surveys of migratory waterfowl in the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways confirmed that birds were shedding H5 avian influenza virus with an Eurasian lineage from late January onwards. This is confirmed by outbreaks in either backyard flocks or combinations of commercial egg complexes, broiler and turkey growing farms among the four flyways. It would appear that some wild domestic birds may still be shedding virus. This situation requires more intensive monitoring and presumes the need for high levels of biosecurity.

 

The sequence of outbreaks in commercial egg-producing flocks with the date confirmed by the NVSL* comprises:-

  • February 23rd New Castle County, DE. Egg-production complex, 1.2 million
  • March 5th Cecil County, MD. Egg-production complex, 1.2 million
  • March 8th New Castle County, DE. Pullets, 0.3 million
  • March 11th Taylor County, IA. Egg-production complex, 1.2 million
  • March 14th Jefferson County, WI. Egg-production complex. 3.0 million
  • March 18th Buena Vista County, IA. Egg-production complex. 5.0 million
  • March 23rd Cecil County, MD. Pullets. 0.3 million
  • March 23rd Kingsbury County, SD. Egg-production complex. 0.1 million
  • March 26th. Franklin County, IA. Pullets. 0.3 million
  • March 28th Guthrie County, IA. Egg-production Complex. 1.5 million
  • March 31st Osceola County, IA. Egg-production Complex. 5.0 million
  • April 2nd Humboldt County, IA. Parent breeders. 15,000 hens
  • April 12th Dixon County, NE. Egg-production Complex 2.1 million hens
  • April 12th Morrison County, MN. Egg-production Complex 0.2 million hens
  • April 16th Lancaster County, PA. Egg-production Complex 1.4 million hens
  • April 20th Lancaster County, PA. Egg-production Complex 1.1 million hens
  • April 20th Lancaster County, PA. Egg-production Complex 0.9 million hens
  • April 25th Cache County, UT. Egg-production Complex 1.6 million hens
  • April 26th Lancaster County, PA. Egg-production complex 0.3 million hens
  • April 27th Lancaster County, PA. Pullets <0.1 million
  • April 28th. Knox County, NE. Egg-production Complex. 2.1 million hens
  • April 29th Weld County, CO. Egg-production Complex. 1.1 million hens.
  • May 10th Lancaster County, PA. Egg-production Farm. <0.1 million hens
  • May 15th Berks County, PA. Egg-production Farm. <0.1 million hens
  • May 15th Berks County, PA. Layer-breeder Farm. <0.1 million hens
  • May 17th Berks County, PA. Layer-breeder Farm. <0.1 million hens
  • June 7th Weld County, CO. Egg-production Farm 1.7 million hens
  • * Field diagnosis and presumptive state laboratory diagnoses with flock depletion generally occur a few days before official confirmation by NVSL

 

To date (July 18th) approximate losses in commercial flocks with confirmed HPAI include:-

  • 2,400,000 broilers on 12 farms
  • 92,000 broiler breeders on 3 farms
  • 5,520,000 turkeys on 135 farms
  • 31,100,000 egg-production hens and 850,000 pullets on 24 locations in 9 states. Pullet mortality does not include “at risk” replacements depleted on affected complexes.

 

Unlike previous years there are still reports from the E.U. document shedding of H5N1 and other H5 strains by migratory waterfowl with mortality in wild birds and foxes. Outbreaks of HPAI are still occurring on commercial farms attributed to contact between wild birds and both domestic chicken, turkey and duck flocks, many of which are usually allowed access to pasture. Most veterinary authorities in Western Europe have lifted flock confinement due to lower rates of recovery of H5N1 HPAI from migratory waterfowl. Avian influenza strains H5 and H7 persist in Western and Eastern Europe, Asia and both Western and Southern Africa. France is experimenting with a DNA vaccine in commercial waterfowl.

 

Backyard flocks that are allowed outside access will continue to be at risk of infection although these clusters of birds in suburban areas are of minimal significance to the epidemiology of avian influenza in the commercial industry. They serve as indicators of the presence of virus among free-living birds as evidinced by the outbreaks turkey farms in Utah this past week.

 

The level of biosecurity in commercial poultry production complexes is appreciably higher than in 2015 when the U.S. experienced an epornitic along the Mississippi Flyway The response of state and federal authorities sice this time has been rapid and effective both in diagnosing and depleting affected flocks. To date, all floor-housed flocks that were infected were depleted using foam. Euthanasia of egg production complexes involved various combinations of VSD+ applying heat or carbon dioxide.

 

The role of migratory waterfowl in dissemination of H5N1 HPAI virus is indicated by the close proximity of infected complexes and their counties with major waterways, lakes, wetlands or reservoirs.

 

It would have been helpful for APHIS epidemiologists to have reported on their findings from the epidemiologic questionnaires completed following outbreaks on commercial farms and with special reference to the first seven large complexes affected through the end of March. It would have been important for the Industry to know the possible routes of infection and whether any obvious defects in structural or operational biosecurity contributed to outbreaks. This would have facilitated appropriate preventive action and allocation of additional resources to intensified biosecurity. A preliminary opinion with guidance during mid-April 2022 was not an unrealistic request and an interim report by early-May may have provided more value than a comprehensive document in 2023 or later.










































































































































































































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