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Egg Week


USDA Weekly Egg Price and Inventory Report, November 16th 2023.


Market Overview


  • The average wholesale unit revenue values for Midwest Extra-large and Large sizes were up 36.5 percent on average this past week. Mediums were up by 37.3 percent. Prices are still below seasonal mid-Fall values. This past week shell egg inventory was down by 3.1 percent, following a rise of 0.6 percent the previous week. The decrease in inventory denotes higher demand with a rise in USDA benchmark wholesale prices following fluctuating shelf prices for generics in past weeks. Supply is increasing due to small but progressive weekly increases in the national flock from July onwards and continuing through November. This past week, chains narrowed the spread between delivered cost and shelf price. This should result in a lower level of generic stock coupled with increasing demand. Deep discounters are holding prices on generics at a low level influencing mainstream retail stores. Eggs are still highly competitive in price against the comparable costs for other protein foods.
  • Total industry inventory was down by 4.5 percent overall this past week to 1.76 million cases with a concurrent 10.7 percent decrease in breaking stock, following a decrease of 6.3 percent last week. Demand for egg products will presumably increase as fall transitions to winter with home baking and entertaining. Egg products are required for the food service and manufacturing sectors although exports are at a low level. Wholesale shell-egg prices compare with 2020 and 2021, also characterized by low ex-plant unit revenue. Benchmark prices were approximately $2.15 per dozen lower than the exceptional prices during the corresponding week in 2022, that was influenced by flock depletions due to HPAI coupled with extreme demand.
  • It is now apparent that the inventory held by chains and other significant distributors may be more important over the short term in establishing wholesale price than the USDA regional inventory figures. Changes in stock held by DCs and in the pipeline as determined by weekly orders are probably responsible for relatively small cyclic fluctuation in weekly industry stock.
  • Unit revenue will increase progressively compared to post-HPAI prices through November with the onset of the Thanksgiving baking season. Outbreaks of HPAI are now underway. A complex of close to 1 million hens was diagnosed and depleted in Minnesota two weeks ago followed by a 1.2 million hen breaking complex in Iowa. Cases in the turkey industry and backyard (non-commercial WOAH flocks) continue coincident with the seasonal Fall migration of waterfowl. The number and extent of future possible outbreaks during late fall and the early winter of 2023 cannot be assessed until more information is available concerning the prevalence of carriers among migratory birds and a review of molecular and field epidemiology for the 2022 spring and fall waves of HPAI. The USDA has yet to identify specific modes of transmission for the 2022 epornitic including possible airborne spread from wild birds and their excreta over short distances.
  • The current relationship between producers and chain buyers based on a single commercial price discovery system constitutes an impediment to a free market. The benchmark price appears to amplify both downward and upward swings as evidenced over the past two years. A CME quotation based on Midwest Large, reflecting demand relative to supply would be more equitable. If feed cost is determined by CME ingredient prices then generic shell eggs should be subject to a Midwest Large quotation.
  • According to the USDA the U.S. flock in production was up 0.3 million to 316.7 million during the week ending November 15th. The total flock of 324.1 million included about 3.4 million molted hens that will resume lay during coming weeks plus 4.0 million pullets attaining production. Given the latest figures it is estimated that the producing flock is now one million hens lower than before the onset of HPAI in 2022.
  • The ex-farm price for breaking stock was up 8.7 this past week to $1.12 per dozen.Checks delivered to Midwest plants were up 11.0 percent to $1.01 per dozen. Prices for breaking stock will follow the wholesale price for shell eggs.


The Week in Review




According to the USDA Egg Market News Reports released on November 13th the Midwest wholesale price (rounded to one cent) for Extra-large was up 36.3 percent from last week to $1.99 per dozen. Large was up 36.8 percent to $1.97 cents per dozen. Mediums were up 37.3 percent to $1.73 per dozen delivered to DCs. Prices should be compared to the USDA benchmark average 6-Region blended nest-run cost of 80.3 cents per dozen as determined by the USDA for October 2023. This excludes provisions for packing, packaging materials and transport, amounting to 57 cents per dozen as determined in mid-2023 from an EIC survey (with low response) and now possibly 60 cents per dozen. Currently producers of generic shell eggs are operating with negative margins depending on region and customer-supply agreements. The progression of prices during 2023 to date is depicted in the USDA chart reflecting three years of data, updated weekly.


The November 13th 2023 edition of the USDA Egg Market News Report confirmed that the USDA Combined Region value (rounded to the nearest cent), was up 22.6 percent to $1.52 per dozen delivered to warehouses for the week ending November 8th 2023. This average price lags current benchmark Midwest weekly values by one week. The USDA Combined range for Large in the Midwest was $1.44 per dozen. At the high end of the range, the price in the South Central region attained $1.60 per dozen. The USDA Combined Price last week was approximately 37 cents per dozen below the 3-year average of $1.90 per dozen. This past week Midwest Large was approximately $2.15 per dozen below the corresponding week in 2022 that was extremely elevated by a combination of low supply following losses due to HPAI and strong inflation-driven demand.


Flock Size 


According to the USDA the number of producing hens reflecting November 15th (rounded to 0.1 million) was up slightly less than 0.1 percent (0.3 million hens) from last week to 316.7 million. The total U.S. flock includes about 3.4 million molted hens due to return to production with approximately 4 million new pullets reaching maturity each week based on USDA monthly chick-hatch data for 20-weeks previously. The increase is offset by routine flock depletion in addition to residual losses during the Fall phase of the 2022 HPAI epornitic and an additional loss of 2 million over the past two weeks. Based on inventory level and prices, the hen population producing eggs should now be in relative balance with consumer demand. Industrial and food service off-take although increasing, has not reverted to pre-COVID levels. Prices will continue to fluctuate but have commenced a seasonal rise in price that will extend through November with the trend accentuated by possible additional incident cases of HPAI.

According to the USDA the total U.S. egg-flock on November 15th was up 0.3 million hens (0.1 percent) to 324.1 million including second-cycle birds and those in molt. The difference of 7.4 million hens between flocks in production and total hens is an approximate figure but denotes that many molted hens will resume production within weeks. Despite benchmark wholesale prices stable for three consecutive weeks, older flocks have been molted or depleted. At present there are two million fewer hens in the total flock with the difference equivalent to about 0.7 percent of the pre-HPAI national flock of 325 million hens.




Cold storage stock of frozen products in selected centers on November 13th 2023 was 2.393 million pounds (1,088 metric tons), unchanged from the inventory of 2.393 million lbs. on November 1st 2023. The monthly USDA Cold Storage Report below quantified an increase in the actual total stock level at the end of September.


The most recent monthly USDA Cold Storage Report released on October 25th 2023 documented a total stock of 30.2 million pounds (13,713 metric tons) of frozen egg products on September 30th 2023. This quantity was up 13.2 percent from the September 30th 2022 value of 26.7 million pounds. September 30th 2023 frozen egg inventory was down 6.3 percent from the previous month ending August 31st 2023 attributed to presumably higher domestic or export demand. Compared to September 30th 2022 yolk inventory was up 90.1 percent to 1,137 million lbs. on September 30th 2023.


A total of 89.2 percent (26.9 million lbs.) of combined inventory comprised the categories of “Whole and Mixed” (40.1 percent) and “Unclassified” (49.2 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 13th 2023 was down 4.5 percent over the previous week. The relative movement of stock over the past week suggests the onset of the seasonal increase in consumer demand despite an increase in wholesale price. Combined with breaking stock, the total inventory of shell eggs in industry cold rooms is now at a rounded level of 1.76 million cases (1.85 million last week; 82,900 cases lower this week). The U.S. population of laying hens at this time is influenced by:-


  • The small number of older birds previously culled during the fall phase of the 2022 HPAI epornitic now approaching the end of their first cycle
  • Incident outbreaks of HPAI with the loss of close to 2.1 million hens in two weeks
  • The population unaffected by HPAI,
  • Flocks retained after molting (with an anticipated decrease in this category based on prevailing egg prices)
  • Started pullets from chick placements during late April 2023. Going forward, younger hens will assume a larger proportion of the national flock as more flocks are placed compensating for the flocks depleted due to HPAI.


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

  • The Midwest Region was down 7.2 percent from the previous week to 479,000 cases.
  • The South Central Region was up 1.3 percent to 290,200 cases
  • The Southeast Region was up 3.6 percent to 278,100 cases
  • The Northeast Region was down a noteworthy 20.8 percent to 148,000 cases
  • The Southwest Region was up 13.7 percent to 174,600 cases.
  • The Northwest Region was down 4.7 percent to 90,200 cases


The total USDA six-area stock of commodity eggs comprised 1,762,400 cases (1,845,300 cases last week), down 4.5 percent, of which 82.9 percent were shell eggs (81.7 percent last week). The inventory of breaking stock was down10.7 percent to 302,200 cases. Shell egg inventory was down 3.1 percent attaining 1,460,200 cases. This denotes relatively higher retail demand justifying anticipation of increases in unit prices during late November. This is reflected in increases in daily quotations issued by the price discovery system used by the industry and buyers. Outbreaks of HPAI are probably influencing buyers who will be concerned over short-term availability in the event of possible depopulation of additional flocks. Retailers are hopefully restocking in anticipation of demand and are constraining margins.


The lower level of breaking stock over the past week reflected increased consumer demand, with ongoing conversion to egg powder and liquids for export and inventory and with seasonally higher demand for liquids by industry and food service. The average price for Midwest checks and breaking stock combined was 66.9 percent of the average value of Midwest Extra-large and Large shell eggs (66.9 percent for previous week) consistent with proportionately lower prices for breaking stock and checks compared to shell eggs with small upward moves in prices for breaking stock and checks this past week relative to shell eggs. The differential can be compared to 80.0 percent in April 2022 reflecting the initial period of high demand for both shell eggs. This past week the wholesale prices for Midwest Extra-large and Large shell eggs were up 36.5 percent on average compared to the combination of breaking stock and checks that were up 9.9 percent from the previous week. This demonstrates the respective demands for shell eggs and egg products and the interconnectivity of the packing and breaking segments of the egg industry under circumstances of extreme disturbances in either supply (lower due to HPAI in 2022) or demand (higher during COVID in 2020). The price for breaking stock and for checks is influenced by the relative demand for generic shell eggs and contract obligations with breakers.


On November 10th 2023 the inventory of other than generic eggs amounting to 491,900 cases (up 4.7 percent from last week at 469,900 cases) among three categories (with the previous week in parentheses) comprised: -


  • Specialty category, up 7.0 percent 38,300 cases. (Was down 0/1% to 35,800 cases)
  • Certified Organic, up 1.1 percent to 103,700 cases. (Was down 3.6% to 102,600 cases)
  • Cage-Free category, up 5.6 percent to 349,900 cases. (Was up 4.7% to 331,500 cases)


Demand for cage-free product will not increase materially over the intermediate term while generic eggs from caged flocks and some surplus down-classified cage-free eggs are on the shelf at $1.80 to $2.10 per dozen during normal supply and demand conditions. Currently there is a wide differential in shelf price between generics compared to the considerably higher priced omega-3 enriched, cage-free, free-range and pasture-housed products. That the higher priced egg categories will lose demand is supported by the findings of the comprehensive review relating to the transition from cages to alternative systems.*


Existing and proposed individual state legislation mandating sale of only cage-free eggs will support most of the completed and anticipated transition from cages but total re-housing will not be completed by the beginning of 2025, less than 14 months away and ultimately never, as projected by most industry observers. The constitutional status of Proposition #12 was confirmed by SCOTUS in a May 11th 2023 decision with specific reference to the dormant Commerce Clause relating to interstate trade. It is unlikely that a legislative initiative (the EATS Act) will be incorporated into the 2023 Farm Bill (that will be delayed at least into January 2024), to limit the impact of Proposition #12 on sows housed for pork production. Many retail chains are ‘renEGGing’ on or extending their time commitments to achieve an acceptable transition to cage-free eggs despite coercion by animal welfare groups. With the current proportion of non-caged flocks and lower prices for generic cage-derived eggs, cage-free eggs are surplus to demand in some areas. Cage-free eggs are becoming a commodity in many markets subjected to the same price pressures as generic eggs from caged hens. Demand for organic product increased this past week responding to lower shelf prices and a narrower spread from cage-free product, compensating for the build in stock during the last week of September. Stock in this category is above 100,000 cases although this quantity represents the approximate production of three days. 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. Inventory of this category remains above the 300,000-case benchmark, but effectively is working stock given weekly production of 1.7 million cases per week. 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 conditions of supply and demand. Similarly, consumers will traditionally purchase white-shelled generic eggs in preference to white or brown-shelled cage-free with a differential of over $1.20 per dozen.

*Caputo,V. et al The Transition to Cage-Free Eggs. February 2023


A comprehensive structured market research project on cage-free eggs has provided an indication of consumer willingness to pay for this attribute. The industry requires a study on other aspects including shell color, GM status and nutritional enrichment. Above all, agricultural economists should evaluate the impact of disruption in supply and demand arising from large-scale depopulation following HPAI in 2015 and for the 2022 HPAI epornitic extending through partial restoration of hen numbers but a disproportionate decline in wholesale price during the first quarter of 2023.




USDA-AMS posted the following national shell egg prices as available, for November 10th 2023 in the Egg Markets Overview report for dozen cartons with comparable prices in parentheses for the previous week: -


Retail Prices


Large, in cartons generic white: $1.26 Up 18.8 percent ($1.06)

Large, in cartons cage-free brown: $2.76 Up 5.3 percent ($2.62)




Large C-F, California in Cartons: $2.47 Up 29.3 percent ($1.91)

National loose, (FOB dock): $1.85 Up 31.2 percent ($1.41)

NYC in cartons to retailer: $2.11 Up 25.6 percent ($1.68)


Regional in cartons to warehouse November 10th.


Midwest $1.44 Up 24.1 percent ($1.16)

Northeast $1.49 Up 23.1 percent ($1.21)

Southeast $1.56 Up 21.8 percent ($1.28)

South Central $1.60 Up 21.2 percent ($1.32)

Combined $1.52 Up 22.5 percent ($1.24)




USDA Certified Organic, Brown, Large: $3.43* ($3.62)*

Cage-Free Brown, Large: $2.98 ($2.40)

Omega-3 Enriched Specialty, White, Large: $2.54 ($3.15)

Generic White, Large Grade A $1.35 ($1.47)

Generic White, Large Grade A featured $1.26 ($1.06)

* based on 18-egg pack


The advertised price for Large white grade A over 263 stores posted for the week ending November 10th was $1.35 per dozen, down $0.12 per dozen or 8.2 percent from the previous week at $1.47 per dozen. Shelf prices will influence demand for generic categories given their availability and the comparison with higher advertised and actual shelf prices for specialty and cage-free brown eggs. Current supply was probably below demand this past week. Independent producers continue to divert shell eggs from breaking to market. Large integrated companies and packers continued to deliver to DCs and chains continue to place orders to restock.


The USDA benchmark-advertised retail price for certified organic for the week (based on 18-egg packs) was $3.43 per dozen, down $0.19 per dozen or 5.2 percent from $3.62 per dozen based on 2,450 stores. An USDA advertised price of $2.98 per dozen was posted for cage-free brown during the past week (1,555 stores), up $0.58 per dozen or 24.2 percent. The price differential between USDA organic and cage-free brown of $0.45 cents per dozen in favor of organics will attract purchasers at the expense of cage-free brown eggs. Week-to-week fluctuations expressed as a percentage can be expected in the stock of specialty and organic eggs based on the small base of these categories. There was upward movement in the inventory of cage-free and specialty categories this past week.


White shelled cage-free eggs were advertised at $3.30 per dozen (1,226 stores) and were $0.32 per dozen 0r 10.7 percent higher than brown cage-free eggs at $2.98 per dozen this past week.


USDA data on advertised promotional retail prices this week indicated a shelf price of $1.35 per dozen for generic Large white compared to a composite wholesale price of $1.52 per dozen delivered to DCs. This represented a theoretical U.S. negative retail margin of 11.2 percent on average featured generic Large (last week a positive margin of 1.4 percent) for featured categories. Demand will increase as retailers restrict markups.


Certified organic was promoted this past week at 28.0 percent of the total, consistent with a constant high inventory, (last week 7.7 percent of features). Omega-3 enriched comprised 26.3 percent of features with fairly constant inventory (12.9 percent last week). Cage-free was at 31.4 percent despite relatively high stock (24.8 percent last week). Vegetarian-fed was featured at 1.8 percent of the total this week. Mediums at 1.3 percent (44.0 and Large at 11.2 percent percent last week) comprised the major generic sizes featured. This confirms that retailers promote any category if available in excess of demand.


USDA Cage-Free Data


According to the latest monthly USDA Cage-free Hen Report released on November 1st 2023, the number of certified organic hens was unchanged from September 2023 at 18.9 million, (rounded to 0.1 million).


The USDA reported that the cage-free (non-organic) flock in October 2023 was unchanged from September 2023 to 107.4 million, (rounded to 0.1 million).


According to the USDA the population of hens producing cage-free and certified organic eggs in October 2023 comprised: -


Total U.S. flock held for USDA Certified Organic production = 18.9 million (18.6 million in Q3 2023).

Total U.S. flock held for cage-free production = 107.4 million (104.0 million in Q3 2023).

Total U.S. non-caged flock =126.3 million (122.6 million in Q3 2023).


This total value represents 38.9 percent (September, 38.9 percent) of a nominal 325 million total U.S. flock pre-HPAI (but 39.1 percent of the national flock after HPAI mortality to a presumed September complement of 323 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 11th 2023 the quantity of eggs processed under FSIS inspection during the week as reported on November 15th 2023 was down 1.1 percent compared to the previous processing week to a level of 1,490,140 cases, (1,507,272 cases last week). The proportion of eggs broken by in-line complexes was 52.5 percent (51.5 percent in-line for the previous week). 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, (70.4 percent for the previous week) responding to the differential in prices paid by breakers and packers. Breaking stock inventory was down 10.7 percent this past week to 302,200 cases with continued diversion to shell-egg markets. Apparent demand from QSRs and casual dining is at stable to slightly higher levels. There is ongoing demand from baking and eat-at-home despite the weekly fluctuation in the inventory of breaking stock. During the corresponding processing week in 2022 in-line breakers processed 50.8 percent of eggs broken.


For the most recent monthly report, revised data for October 2023, yield from 6,204,925 cases (6,277,558 cases last month) denoted an increase in demand for liquid over the period October 1st through October 28th 2023. Edible yield was 38.5 percent, distributed in the following proportions expressed as percentages: - liquid whole, 61.9; white, 22.8; yolk, 11.8; dried, 3.4.


All eggs broken during 2022 attained 76.22 million cases, 2.0 percent less than 2021. Eggs broken in 2023 to date amounted to 67.81 million cases, 1.5 percent more than the corresponding period in 2022. This is attributed to stable demand for egg liquids from retail, food service and QSRs and casual dining restaurants. The market is constrained by economic uncertainty following the ending of COVID supports, inflation, high credit card interest rates and purchasing of only essentials by consumers




Breaking Stock


The average rounded price for breaking stock was up 8.7 this past week to $1.12 per dozen with a range of $1.10 to $1.13 per dozen delivered to Central States plants on November 13th. Checks were up 11.0 percent this past week to an average of $1.01 per dozen over the most frequent range of $1.00 to $1.02 per dozen suggesting that the market for breaking stock generally parallels shell eggs.


Shell Eggs


The USDA Egg Market News Report dated November 13th 2023 confirmed that Midwest wholesale prices for Extra-large and Large sizes were higher by an average of 36.5 percent over the previous week. Mediums were up 37.3 percent. Higher prices for two consecutive weeks after a protracted plateau in the benchmark price, suggests that the market is operating with greater demand. The following table lists the “most frequent” ranges of values as delivered to warehouses*: -



Current Week

Previous Week

Extra Large

197-200 cents per dozen

144-147 up 36.3%


195-198 cents per dozen

142-145 up 36.8%


171-174 cents per dozen

124-127 up 37.3%



Breaking stock

110-113 cents per dozen

101-105 up 8.7%


100-102 cents per dozen

90-92 up 11.0%

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


The November 13th 2023 Midwest Regional (IA, WI, MN.) average FOB producer price, for nest-run, grade-quality white shelled Large size eggs, with prices in rounded cents per dozen was up 38.9 percent from last week, (with the previous week in parentheses): -

  1. $1.98 ($1.40), (estimated by proportion): L. $1.89 ($1.36): M. $1.65 ($1.13)


The November 13th 2023 California price per dozen for cage-free, certified Proposition #12 compliant Large size in cartons delivered to a DC, (with the previous week in parentheses) was up 25.9 percent from last week.

  1. $3.18 ($2.58); L. $3.11 ($2.47); M. $2.32 ($1.94)


Shell-Egg Demand Indicator


The USDA-AMS Shell Egg Demand Indicator for November 15thwas up 3.7 points from the last weekly report to 3.3 with a 4.5 percent decrease in total inventory and a 3.1 percent lower shell inventory from the past week as determined by the USDA-ERS as follows: -


Productive flock

316,729,526 million hens

Average hen week production

82.7%(was 82.6 %)

Average egg production

262,033,132 per day

Proportion to shell egg market

70.8% (was 70.4%)

Total for in-shell consumption

 514,933 cases per day

USDA Shell Inventory

1,460,200 cases

26-week rolling average inventory

4.65 days

Actual inventory on hand

4.50 days

Shell Egg Demand Indicator

 3.3 points (was -0.4 on November 8th 2023)


The 1st Quarter results for Cal-Maine Foods, the USDA Monthly Report for October 2023 including text, tables, data and prices and can be accessed under the STATISTICS tab. The Export Report through September 2023 is posted in this edition


Dried Egg Products


The USDA extreme range in prices for dried albumen and yolk products in $ per lb. was released on November 10th 2023. Data posted by the USDA is incomplete but available values are depicted for the past week and in parentheses for the previous week and also past months to illustrate the trend in prices influenced by HPAI depopulation and subsequent repopulation:


Whole Egg

$4.50 to $7.00


Average May $ 9.15

June $ 7.09

July $ 6.91

August $ 7.08

Sept. $ 6.51

Oct. $ 5.75


$3.80 to $5.45



Average June $ 5.85

July $ 5.70

August $ 5.16

Sept. $ 5.03

Oct. $ 4.75

Spray-dried white

No quotation, past week

Average Dec. $14.18

Jan. $14.18

Feb. to Oct. No release


No quotation, past week



Frozen Egg Products


The USDA range in prices for frozen egg products in cents per lb. based on the extreme range on November 10th compared to the previous week were generally little changed in price:-


Whole egg up 1.9 percent; Whites,unchamged; Yolks,unchanged;


This indicated a relative balance between availability and demand from the manufacturing and food service sectors: -

Whole Egg

$1.02 - $1.12

$0.94 - $1.15


$0.92 - $1.25

$0.92 - $1.25

Average for Yolks1

$1.98 - $2.03

$1.75 - $2.15

  1. extreme range


October averages (September): Whole. $1.03, ($1.06); Whites, $1.09, ($1.16); Yolks, $1.95, ($1.96).


Liquid Egg Products


Values for Whites and Yolks covering certified truckload quantities have not been released for the past nine weeks. Whole egg values were not released last week. October averages (cents per lb.) are compared with September values (in parentheses): -


Whole, $0.76, ($0.71); Whites, $0.68 ($0.70); Yolks, $1.68, ($1.72).


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.




There was one report of HPAI in a small commercial egg-producing flock in Montana three weeks ago followed by cases in Minnesota and Iowa this past two weeks requiring depopulation of close to two-million hens. Broiler flocks have not been affected since the first quarter of the current year. Cases among egg-producing flocks expected during the first quarter of 2023 fortunately did not materialize, possibly relating to the absence of actively shedding migratory birds in areas with commercial poultry. Outbreaks of HPAI have been recorded among 25 flocks of turkeys over the past four weeks in five states. There are increases in the number of cases recorded in wild birds and backyard flocks year-to-date in addition to free-living predatory and scavenging carnivorous mammals. Given the risks and consequences of infection it will be necessary to continue to maintain high levels of structural and operational biosecurity with intensification into winter months. HPAI is now frequently diagnosed in breeding colonies of marine birds in costal areas of Europe and sporadically in commercial flocks. This has implication for trans-Atlantic dissemination following the pattern in the 4th quarter of 2021 extending into 2022. Outbreaks in commercial flocks are correlated with shedding of AI virus by migratory birds.


Approximate losses in commercial flocks confirmed with HPAI and updates during the 2022/3 epornitic included:-

  • 2,900,000 broilers on 18 farms in 7 states For 2023 to date losses are 450,000
  • 330,000 broiler breeders on 11 farms in 6 states.
  • 270,000 upland game birds in Alabama during late October 2023.
  • 11,700,000 turkeys including a few breeder flocks on 259 farms in 7 states 2022 and through 2023 year-to-date. During October 2023, losses have approximated 1.1million growing turkeys with 23 incident cases confirmed in four states (SD; UT; MN; IA).
  • 44,050,000 egg-production hens in total with 95 percent on 22 large complexes above 0.5 million in addition to 1,070,000 pullets with a total of 41 locations in 12 states. Pullet mortality does not include “at risk” replacements depleted on affected complexes with contiguous pullet rearing. One case involving 50,000 hens was recorded in Montana on October 3rd.


Losses in three states during the past week ending November 15th were:- 

  • Broiler breeder pullets none
  • Turkeys and breeders 94,000
  • Egg-production 1,200,000
  • Non-WOAH 11 outbreaks in 4 states


Backyard flocks (non-WOAH) that are allowed outside access will continue to be at risk of infection in the U.S. These small clusters of birds in both suburban and rural 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 USDA-APHIS published a report on the results of epidemiologic studies* available on July 25th. Results on 18 egg-production case farms and 22 control farms suggested higher risk of infection associated with the presence of a farm in a control zone, proximity of wild birds, mowing or bush hogging vegetation adjacent to the farm, and off-site disposal of routine mortality. These factors suggest possible aerogenous introduction of virus shed by wild birds onto farms over short distances. Protection was enhanced by effective structural and operational biosecurity. The validity of findings was limited by the confounding inherent to the diversity in size of flocks incorporated into the case-control study and deriving data from a 26 page questionnaire by telephone survey, months after outbreaks, introducing recollection bias and responder fatigue.

*Green, A. et al Investigation of risk factors for introduction of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 virus onto table egg farms in the United States, 2022: a case-control study. Frontiers in Veterinary Science. Doi: 10.3389/vets.2023.1229008


It is hoped that APHIS recognises the need to provide the industry with science-based recommendations to prevent additional incident HPAI outbreaks. This presumes prompt analysis and reporting of whatever field and molecular epidemiology that is collected. The Agency is also presumed to have planned epidemiologic field studies and allocated personnel and other resources since a fall resurgence of HPAI is evident