Egg Week

11/10/2022

USDA Weekly Egg Price and Inventory Report, November 9th 2022.

Market Overview

  • The average wholesale unit revenue values for Midwest Extra-large and Large sizes were higher by 7.0 percent on average, continuing the upward move from last week. Mediums were down by 0.3 percent reflecting increased supply relative to demand. This past week shell egg inventory was up 3.3 although prices were higher. Both retail price and demand will continue at a higher level than in previous years sustained by consumer perceptions of value in an inflationary environment with concern over the high cost for protein. Availability and hence prices are influenced by depletion of close to 37 million hens in 16 large complexes in ten states extending from the last week in February through the last day of October. The U.S. flock is recovering in size with weekly transfer of pullets compensating for HPAI losses.
  • Total industry inventory increased by 1.0 percent overall this past week to 1.67 million cases with a 3.3 percent increase in shell eggs and a concurrent 7.6 percent decrease in breaking stock. Wholesale unit prices during the first three quarters of 2022 contrasted favorably with the corresponding periods in both 2020 and 2021 characterized by low ex-plant unit revenue. Generic eggs are still yielding high positive margins given the USDA benchmark average combined costs for nest-run of 81.5 cents per dozen in September (feed, chicks, housing, labor and fuel). In addition the average cost of grading, packaging and delivery amounted 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 to establishing wholesale price than the USDA regional inventory figures published weekly, especially over the short term. Market data suggests that chains have priced generic white eggs in response to prevailing demand seldom feature generic eggs, irrespective of size.
  • Due to the depletion of flocks as a result of HPAI, unseasonal high unit revenue will now be a reality into winter. The occurrence and extent of further outbreaks of HPAI cannot be assessed until more information is revealed concerning the molecular and field epidemiology relating to cases, identifying modes of transmission and possible deficiencies in biosecurity on affected complexes that had specific risk factors.
  • 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 evidenced over the past two weeks. The benchmark functions to the detriment of the industry over the long term and a CME quotation based on Midwest Large, reflecting demand relative to supply would be more equitable. If feed cost is determined by CME prices then so should generic shell eggs.
  • According to the USDA the U.S. flock in production was down 0.6 million or 0.2 percent to 303.7 million hens during the week ending November 9th. The flock in production includes about 3.0 million molted hens that resumed lay during the past week plus 4.0 million pullets attaining production.
  • There is some prospect of a return in the food service sector post-COVID with liquid, frozen and dried egg prices stable to moderately higher over the past three weeks. The ex-farm price for breaking stock was up 4.9 percent this past week to 268 cents per dozen. Checks delivered to Midwest plants were 1.6 percent higher to 251 cents per dozen. Prices for breaking stock will remain high in relation to season over the recovery period from HPAI as replacement flocks are reared, reminiscent of 2015-2016.

The Week in Review

Prices

According to the USDA Egg Market News Reports released on November 7th the Midwest wholesale price (rounded to one cent) for Extra-large was up 7.0 percent to $3.50 per dozen. Large size was up 7.1 percent to $3.48 per dozen; the Medium price was down 0.3 percent to $3.15 per dozen as delivered to DCs. Prices should be compared to the USDA benchmark average 6-Region blended nest-run cost of 81.5 cents per dozen in September excluding provisions for packing, packaging materials and transport amounting to 50 cents per dozen according to the EIC. The progression of prices during 2022 to date is depicted in the USDA chart reflecting three years of data, updated weekly.

 

 The November 7th 2022 edition of the USDA Egg Market News Report documented a USDA Combined Region value rounded to the nearest cent, of $3.36 per dozen delivered to warehouses for the week ending November 1st 2022. This average price lags current Midwest weekly values by one week. The USDA Combined range for Large in the Midwest was $3.25 per dozen. At the high end of the range, price in the South Central Region attained $3.46 per dozen. The USDA Combined Price last week was approximately $2.40 above the 3-year average. This past week Midwest Large was approximately $2.45 above the corresponding week in 2021. Prices were higher this past week due to presumed pre-Thanksgiving demand coupled with declining shell inventory held by the industry.

 

Infection of commercial egg, turkey and broiler flocks with HPAI previously considered unlikely after June, has resulted in recent incident cases among turkeys and broiler breeder flocks in California and Mississippi, growing turkeys in Minnesota, Utah and the Dakotas and large egg-production complexes in Ohio, Colorado and Iowa and egg and turkey flocks in a number of Canadian provinces from the Maritimes to British Columbia. Prices appear to have following the trend during the 2015 epornitic although for a relatively longer period and at a higher level in 2022.

 

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 with subsequent depopulation of approximately 6 million additional hens in Ohio, Colorado and Iowa by the end of October. According to the USDA the number of producing hens reflecting November 9th (rounded to 0.1 million) was down 0.6 million or 0.2 percent to 303.7 million. The total U.S. flock includes about 2.0 million molted hens due to come back into production with approximately 4.0 million new pullets reaching maturity each week based on USDA chick hatching data. The increase is offset by routine flock depletion in addition to losses over the past months of the HPAI epornitic. Based on inventory level the hen population producing eggs should now be slightly higher than consumer demand entering fall. Industrial and food service off-take although increasing, has not reverted to pre-COVID levels. Prices will continue to fluctuate through November but will rise before Thanksgiving with a transitory dip thereafter. Prices are expected to rise with the seasonal pre-Christmas surge. Prices of shell eggs and products will depend on possible incident outbreaks of HPAI offset by the contribution of new pullets and of molted hens to supply.

 

According to the USDA the total U.S. egg-flock on November 9th was down by 0.6 million million to 308.9 million hens including second-cycle birds and those in molt. The nominal difference of 5.2 million between hens in production and total hens is an approximate figure but denotes that molted hens resumed production. At present there are now at least 20 million fewer hens in both the total and producing flocks with the difference equivalent to about seven percent of the pre-HPAI national flock.

 

INVENTORY LEVELS

Cold storage stocks of frozen products in selected regions on November 8th 2022 amounted to 2.432 million pounds (1,105 metric tons) of frozen egg products, 0.2 percent more than the inventory of 2.427 million lbs. on October 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 October 24th 2022 documented a total stock of 27.7 million pounds (12,111 metric tons) of frozen egg products on September 30th 2022. This quantity was up 5.8 percent from the September 30th 2021 value of 25.2 million pounds.

 

September 30th frozen egg inventory was up 3.7 percent from August 31st 2022 despite depletion of 33.7 million hens. Compared to September 30th 2021 yolks were up 38.1 percent to 598 million lbs.

 

A total of 86.2 percent of combined inventory (26.6 million lbs.) comprised the categories of “Whole and Mixed” (32.9 percent) and “Unclassified” (53.4 percent). The lack of specificity in classification requires 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 November 7th 2022 was up 3.3 percent compared to a decrease of 3.0 percent during the previous week. The increase in stock over preceding weeks suggested softening of consumer demand and adjustment of stock levels by chains possibly to influence the benchmark price. This past week inventory moved higher. Combined with breaking stock, the total inventory of shell eggs in the industry is now at 1.67 million cases (1.70 million last week and 16,900 cases higher). The U.S. population of laying hens at this time is influenced by the number of 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 May 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 were depleted due to HPAI.

 

Four of six USDA Regions reported higher stock levels this past week. The regions are listed in descending order of stock: -

  • The Midwest Region was down 4.9 percent compared to the previous week to 416,100 cases.
  • The Southeast Region was up 6.9 percent to 278,100 cases
  • The South Central Region was up 6.7 percent to 257,300 cases
  • The Northeast Region was up 5.0 percent to 178,800 cases.
  • The Southwest Region was up 19.5 percent to 159,200 cases
  • The Northwest Region was down 5.5 percent to 63,200

 

The total USDA six-area stock of commodity eggs comprised 1,671,200 cases, up 1.0 percent, of which 80.9 percent were shell eggs (72.2 percent last week). The inventory of breaking stock was down 7.6 percent to 318,500 cases. Shell eggs were up 3.3 percent to 1,352,700 cases. The relatively lower level of breaking stock over recent weeks and a higher proportion of in-line eggs processed suggests movement of uncommitted eggs to the shell market. This conclusion is supported by sustained higher prices for shell eggs compared to breaking stock. The average price for Midwest checks and breaking stock combined is now 74.3 percent of the average value of Midwest Extra-large and Large shell eggs (last week 84.4 percent compared to 80.0 percent in May reflecting the initial period of high demand). 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 the wholesale Midwest Extra- large and Large shell egg prices were higher by an average of 7.1 percent compared to breaking stock and checks up by an average of 3.1 percent from the previous week.

 

On November 7th 2022 the inventory of other than generic eggs amounting to 407,500 cases (last week 379,900 cases) among three categories (with the previous week in parentheses) comprised: -

 

  • Specialty category, up 11.1 percent to 39,800 cases. (Was up 0.2% to 35,800 cases)
  • Certified Organic, up 1.3 percent to 71,200 cases. (Was down 3.7% to 70,300 cases)
  • Cage-Free category, up 8.3 percent to 296,500 cases. (Was down 0.4% to 273,800 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 $1.80 to $2.00 per dozen during normal supply conditions 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 26 months away. The California Department of Food and Agriculture issued a revised draft of regulations based on Proposition #12 for comment but the Agency was over 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 was considered by SCOTUS on October 11th with specific consideration of the Dormant Commerce Clause relating to interstate trade. Many chains are reneging on their commitments to achieve complete transition to cage-free eggs. 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 recently concluded 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 national shell egg prices for November 4th in the Egg Markets Overview report for dozen cartons with comparable prices in parentheses for the previous week: -

Large, in cartons generic white $1.66 down 58.4 percent ($3.99)

Large, in cartons cage-free brown $3.03 up 1.7 percent ($2.98)

Large, California in Cartons $4.89 up 25.7 percent ($3.89)

 

Wholesale

National loose, (FOB dock) $3.05 up 1.6 percent ($3.00)

NYC in cartons to retailer $3.69 up 6.3 percent ($3.50)

Midwest in cartons to warehouse $3.26 up 12.8 percent ($2.89)

 

 The following advertised retail prices for the week ending November 10th 2022, (compared with the previous week in parentheses) were posted by the AMS on November 7th for dozen packs:

USDA Certified Organic, Brown, Large: $5.15 ($5.25)

Cage-Free Brown, Large: $3.73 (none)

Omega-3 Enriched Specialty, White, Large: $3.99 ($3.48)

Generic White, Large Grade AA $1.54* ($3.99)

Generic White, Large Grade A (Feature price) $1.66* ($3.90)

* Based on a small sample with few advertised promotions

 

The advertised price this week for Large white grade AA was $1.54 per dozen, down $2.45 per dozen or 61.4 percent. Lower shelf prices will increase demand for generic categories given availability and higher advertised shelf prices for specialty and cage-free brown eggs. Current supply was probably in excess of demand this past week as independent producers continue to divert more shell eggs from breaking. Large integrated companies and packers continue delivering to DCs and stores to replenish inventory. This is despite fluctuation in successive weekly industry inventory with a fall this past week. Demand for shell eggs remains high coupled with reduced supply as a result of outbreaks of HPAI that resumed in September and extended through October impacting 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 almost ignored. Eggs and product purchases will be limited among some demographics by their earnings and inflation.

 

For the current week the USDA benchmark-advertised retail price of brown cage-free was $3.73 per dozen as documented by the USDA. (Last week USDA did not post an advertised price for this category). Advertised promotional price for certified organic was down 1.9 percent or $0.10 per dozen to $5.15 compared to the previous week at $5.25 per dozen. This week the difference in advertised price between cage-free white and certified organic was $1.42 per dozen ($2,27 per dozen last week) suggesting continued demand for cage-free brown over certified organic eggs. Large week-to-week fluctuations can be expected in the stock of specialty and organic eggs based on the small base of these categories.

 

This past week cage-free white at $3.99 per dozen was $0.61 per dozen more than cage-free brown at $3.38 per dozen

 

Features for the major categories this week by proportion included Organic (24.5 percent, down substantially from 79.8 percent last week); Cage-free (23.7 percent, up from 10.5 percent reflecting relatively high stock in this category) and Omega-3 enriched, (10.0 percent, up from 5.9 percent). Other categories amounted to 41.8 percent of features with Large predominating at 39 percent of all features confirming that with decreasing demand retailers promote generic categories available in excess of demand.

 

USDA Cage-Free Data

According to the latest monthly USDA Cage-free Hen Report released on November 2nd 2022, the number of certified organic hens during October 2022 was unchanged from September 2022 at 18.0 million. This is 0.6 percent lower than the average of 18.1 million during Q2 of 2022.

 

The USDA reported the cage-free (non-organic) flock to be up 1.9 percent to 88.8 million in October 2022.

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

Total U.S. flock held for USDA Certified Organic production = 18.0 million (18.1 million in Q2 2022).

Total U.S. flock held for cage-free production = 88.8 million (88.2 million in Q2 2022).

Total U.S. non-caged flock =106.8 million (106.3 million in Q2 2022).

 

This total value represents 33.0 percent (last month 32.4 percent) of a nominal 324 million total U.S. flock (but 35.0 percent of the national flock after HPAI mortality to 305 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 November 5th 2022 the quantity of eggs processed under FSIS inspection during the week as reported on November 9th 2022 was down 4.8 percent compared to the previous processing week to a level of 1,423,326 cases (1,494,446 cases last week). The proportion of eggs broken by in-line complexes was 50.6 percent (51.1 percent for the previous week), denoting relatively more use of contract and purchased eggs. The differential in price for shell sales and breaking will determine the movement of uncommitted eggs. This past week 70.8 percent of egg production was directed to the shell market, (69.3 percent for the previous week) despite relatively higher prices paid by breakers. Breaking stock inventory was down 7.6 percent this past week to 318,500 cases following diversion to shell-egg markets. This is despite a slight recovery in the food service sector. There has been increased demand by 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 53.8 percent of eggs broken.

 

For the most recent monthly report for week ending September 3rd 2022, yield from 7,173,656 cases (6,085,223 cases last month) denoted a decrease in demand for liquid over the period August 28th through October 1st 2022. Edible yield was 38.4 percent, distributed in the following proportions expressed as percentages: - liquid whole, 63.6; white, 22.7; yolk, 11.0; dried, 2.7.

 

All eggs broken during 2021 attained 77.8 million cases, 2.6 percent more than 2020. Eggs broken in 2022 to date amounted to 63.94 million cases, 0.3 percent less than for the corresponding period in 2021. This is attributed to decreased demand for egg liquids from retail, food service and QSRs and casual dining restaurants despite restoration of service as COVID restrictions are relaxed.

 

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 up 4.9 percent this past week to an average of 267 cents per dozen with a range of 260 to 275 cents per dozen delivered to Central States plants on November 7th. Checks were up 1.6 percent this past week to an average of 251 cents per dozen over a narrow range of 250 to 252 cents per dozen.

 

Shell Eggs

The USDA Egg Market News Report dated November 7th 2022 confirmed that Midwest prices for Extra-large and Large sizes were up by 7.1 percent compared to the previous week. Mediums were lower by 0.3 percent. Prices represented the third consecutive weekly increase with fluctuation in inventory. This suggests stable to moderately higher prices before the pre-Thanksgiving surge but depending on whether any additional flocks are affected by HPAI.

 

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

Size/Type

Current Week

Previous Week

Extra Large

348-351 cents per dozen

325-328 up 7.0%

Large

346-349 cents per dozen

323-326 up 7.1%

Medium

313-316 cents per dozen

311-320 down 0.3%

Certified Organic EL

248-251 cents per dozen

Unchanged long term

Breaking stock

260-275 cents per dozen

250-260 up 4.9%

Checks

250-252 cents per dozen

246-248 up 1.6%

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

 

The November 7th 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 up 7.1 percent from last week, (with the previous week in parentheses): -

  1. $3.40 ($3.17), (estimated by proportion): L. $3.34 ($3.12): M. $2.95 ($2.95)

 

The November 7th 2022 California price per dozen for cage-free, certified as Proposition #12-compliant large product in cartons delivered to a DC, (with the previous week in parentheses) was up 4.5 percent for the week.

  1. $5.13 ($4.91); L. $5.11 ($4.89); M. $4.55 ($4.28)

(See the text, tables and figures and the review of production data and prices comprising the USDA Report for September and the 1st Quarter FY 2023 results for Cal-Maine Foods under the Statistics Tab)

 

Shell-Egg Demand Indicator


 

The USDA-AMS Shell Egg Demand Indicator for November 9th was down 2.1 points from the last weekly report to 5.1 with a 3.3 percent increase in shell inventory from the past week as determined by the USDA-ERS as follows: -

 

Productive flock

303,686,574 million hens

Average hen week production

82.6%(was 82.5%)

Average egg production

250,760,040 per day

Proportion to shell egg market

70.8% (was 69.3%)

Total for in-shell consumption

 493,223 cases per day

USDA Inventory

1,52,700 cases

26-week rolling average inventory

4.57 days

Actual inventory on hand

4.35 days

Shell Egg Demand Indicator

5.1 points (was 7.2 on November 2nd)

 

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 37 million hens following HPAI outbreaks in sixteen large complexes and eight smaller units in ten states followed by successive weekly pullet placements restoring the national flock.

 

Dried Egg Products

The USDA extreme range in prices for dried albumen and yolk products in $ per pound was released on November 4th. Data is depicted for the previous week and past months to illustrate the trend in prices attributed to HPAI depopulation: -

 

Whole Egg

$11.50-$13.75

Average June $14.71

July $13.11

August $11.70

Sept. $10.94

Yolk

$13.00-$16.30

Average June $13.50

July $13.52

August $13.50

Sept. $14.31

Spray-dried white

No quotation, past week

Average June $17.23

July $14.70

August $12.80

Sept. $12.53

Blends

No quotation, past week

 

Frozen Egg Products

The USDA range in prices for frozen egg products in cents per lb. on November 4th 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

$2.55 - $2.65

$2.63 - $2.76

White

$1.74 - $1.80

$1.74 - $1.80

Average for Yolks

$3.75 - $3.80

$3.70 - $3.81

 

Prices were not posted by USDA for white and whole liquid egg products this past week. The September averages for non-certified truckload quantities are tabulated (cents per lb.): -

Whole 248c; Whites 146c ; Yolks 351c. 

 

The USDA has not released a report on dried egg inventory since March 13th 2020 due to 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 expressing an Eurasian lineage from late January 2022 onwards. This is confirmed by subsequent outbreaks in backyard flocks and combinations of commercial egg complexes, broiler and turkey growing farms among the four flyways. It is evident that some wild domestic birds are shedding virus based on cases in backyard flocks. This situation requires more intensive monitoring including wild endemic birds and small mammals with the presumption to maintain high levels of biosecurity.

 

Outbreaks in commercial egg-producing flocks extended from February 23rd to September 21st

 

To date approximate losses in commercial flocks with confirmed HPAI and updates include:-

  • 2,400,000 broilers on 12 farms in 7 states
  • 280,000 broiler breeders on 8 farms in 4 states
  • 7,800,000 turkeys on 180 farms in 7 states
  • 36,600,000 egg-production hens in total with 95 percent on large complexes above 0.5 million in addition to 1,050,000 pullets all involving 29 locations in 10 states. Pullet mortality does not include “at risk” replacements depleted on affected complexes with contiguous pullet rearing.

 

Through the second week in October, Canada recorded 72 outbreaks in 9 provinces and has depopulated 3.0 million commercial poultry including hens, turkeys and broilers.

 

Unlike in previous years there are continuing reports from the E.U. documenting shedding of H5N1 and other H5 strains by migratory waterfowl with mortality in other than anseriform wild birds and in foxes. Outbreaks of HPAI are still occurring on commercial farms in Eastern and Western Europe. An incident case was confirmed on a duck farm in South Korea this past week. These outbreaks were attributed to contact with wild birds. Domestic chicken, turkey and duck flocks will be vulnerable, if as usual they are 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 but the U.K. has imposed compulsory housing. Avian influenza strains H5 and H7 persist in Western and Eastern Europe, Asia and both Western and Southern Africa. France and Holland are evaluating DNA vaccines. An International conference on vaccination against HPAI took place in Paris on October 25th and 26th

 

Backyard flocks that are allowed outside access will continue to be at risk of infection in the U.S. These small clusters of birds in suburban areas are of minimal significance to the epidemiology of avian influenza as it affects the commercial industry. Backyard flocks serve as indicators of the presence of virus among free-living birds as evidenced by ongoing outbreaks in commercial poultry flocks across the U.S.

 

The level of biosecurity in commercial egg production complexes and broiler farms is appreciably higher than in 2015 when the U.S. experienced an epornitic along the Mississippi Flyway The response of state and federal authorities since 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 or conventional kill carts flushed with carbon dioxide.

 

The role of migratory waterfowl in introduction and subsequent dissemination of H5N1 HPAI virus is indicated by the close proximity of infected complexes and their counties with major waterways, lakes, wetlands or reservoirs during the spring months of 2022. There is now limited subjective evidence of aerogenous transmission of HPAI over short distances with virus (possibly shed by wild endemic birds) becoming entrained in dust and introduced into ventilation inlets by powered ventilation systems.

 

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. The industry should have been advised of 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. This is especially the case since an outbreak ocurred in a broiler breeder flock in Turlock, CA. on August 22nd followed by a second 4 days later with reports of four turkey flocks aong three counties in that state. In addition two cases were diagnosed in turkey flocks in Minnesota on August 30th with large egg complexes in Northwest Ohio and Colorado confirmed during September and a complex in Iowa in October. This suggests ongoing exposure from wild domestic birds as evidenced by the incidence in backyard flocks that are effectively sentinels.


































































































































































































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