One year ago chicken, egg and turkey producers in the state entered the fall rocked by outbreaks of bird flu that included 77 sites with confirmed case in Iowa.
Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey is happy he hasn’t had to report any cases this year. “It sure is nice not to have avian influenza this year. Our producers are doing a great job of increasing the amount of effort around biosecurity.” Northey says.
Producers this fall are back up to speed, and Northey says the worry now is generating sales. “We continue to need more demand on the egg side — we’re actually producing more than the demand is,” according to Northey, “so we encourage folks to use as many eggs as they can. They are plentiful out there. They are inexpensive. On the turkey side as well, we are back to full capacity and encourage folks to keep eating turkey and help these producers who had such a tough year last year.”
The avian flu is believed to spread through migrating wild birds, so the concern of an outbreak this year is not over. “I think we will have birds moving through, so there’s always that increased risk of exposure when the wild birds are moving through…but we have birds that are hear over the winter and we have birds here over the summer as well, so I think most of our producers are looking at things and saying ‘I have the potential of being exposed any day of the year,” Northey says.
He says producers likely won’t stop being on the lookout after seeing more than 31 million birds destroyed to prevent the spread of the disease last year. “I am not sure that we are ever going to breathe completely easy — but it’s sure nice to get through another day, another month and all this year so far without any avian influenza in Iowa,” Northey says. The disease impacted 18 Iowa counties last year.