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An Overview Of The Pathology of Avian Flu

Is the Threat of Avian Flu in the US Likely to Return this Fall?

The highly pathogenic avian flu (HPAI), which was transmitted to domestic birds by wild-bird migration, caused a severe shortage of US turkey and egg supplies. As temperatures rose and migration stopped, the risk diminished. According to CoBank’s report, HPAI poses a threat again this fall due to cooler temperatures and returning migration. This creates high stakes for poultry producers.

This spring’s HPAI outbreak was already more devastating than the 2014-15 outbreak. It is considered to have been the worst in history. Similar to 2014-15, turkey and egg producers were the worst affected.

The direct costs of euthanizing 43.2 million laying chickens and 7.3 million turkeys during the 2014-15 HPAI epidemic cost US producers $1.6 billion. The total cost of recovery was more than $3.3B.

CoBank’s lead animal-protein economist Brian Earnest expects that US producers will take longer to rebuild their flocks due to today’s high costs of feed, labor, and other production inputs. He stated that a smaller national layer flock will mean a lower egg supply over the next few months, which in turn will lead to higher egg prices and less consumption.

Are Chicken Supplies Tight?

Due to Covid-19 impacts, poultry-product supplies were already limited this year. There was also strong consumer demand. HPAI added to the burden, reducing product supply and making market conditions more difficult. This resulted in prices skyrocketing. In several markets, table-egg prices increased by three times and the price of turkey breast meat rose to historical highs.

A CoBank release stated that the wholesale spot-market value for fresh tom meat in US turkey flocks has surpassed $6.50 per kilogram in recent weeks. This was a new high previously thought impossible. After safety stock started rebuilding in May, breast meat in cold storage dropped to just 43 million pounds in April.

The impact of HPAI on broiler production in 2015 and 2022 seems minimal.

The global market has also been affected by supply and demand as well as price pressures. The US poultry exports increased 19% in June over the previous year. CoBank released a news release stating that US poultry exports increased 19% year-over-year.

Are Chicken Exports Stable at the moment?

The US poultry industry has grown in production by an average of 2.2% annually since the 2014-15 HPAI epidemic. In addition, the country’s dependence on exports has increased. Foreign-market access is vital to the US poultry industry. Some poultry products, such as chicken leg quarters and chicken paws, are more dependent on export markets. This makes US exporters more vulnerable to trade restrictions that may result from future HPAI epidemics.


China, for example, closed its borders to US chickens immediately after the 2014 HPAI epidemic. According to CoBank, this resulted in leg-quarters that were export-dependent falling by half between mid-2014 & mid-2015. The prices of chicken feet fell even further.

China’s markets will not be open to US poultry until 2019, as this was a result of the US/China Phase One trade agreement. Currently, the HPAI-based trade restrictions are limited. However, this could change, and it would be disastrous for US producers and exporters.

Earnest stated that “fortunately for US poultry exporters”, the current world views regarding HPAI trade restrictions have relaxed since the 2015 and 2014 major outbreaks.” “Rather than a blanket ban on HPAI, trade partners imposed new restrictions at the county, state, and regional levels. This was because global outbreaks were becoming more common and, not coincidentally because politicians around the world were worried about rapidly rising food prices following Russia’s invasion.

In 2015, US broiler meat exports fell by almost 1 billion pounds due to HPAI. Dark-meat prices plummeted. The impact of HPAI on US broiler meat exports and prices was quite different. The 12-month total is within 1 percent of the export volume from a year ago, and the 2022 volume is expected to surpass the 2015 volume by more than 1 billion pounds.

The CoBank release stated that “Still with the stakes that high [today], it’s even more important for producers, consumers and other entities along the value chain that production stream is safe from the threat of disease animal,”

Read the CoBank report This time, the HPAI stakes are higher.

For more details, please review the post titled “Avian Flu Likely to Re-Emerge and Threaten US Poultry Flocks This Fall” which was published on the website Poultry Healthcare Today. They are an outstanding source for articles like this.

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