Iowa poultry industry recovery continues

Avian flu outbreak sharply reduced egg production

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Iowa’s poultry industry has made significant progress recovering from the devastating impact of the highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreak that killed tens of millions laying hens in 2015.

Iowa egg production in November was 1.3 billion eggs, down slightly from October, but up 73 percent from November 2015, according to the latest chickens and eggs report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Eggs per 100 layers for November were 2,377, down 2 percent from October, but up 14 percent from November 2015.

The average number of all layers on hand during November was 54.5 million, up 2 percent from the previous month, and up 52 percent from November 2015.

While pleased that egg production continues to recover, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said in a news release that producers have faced a plunge in wholesale prices.

“Egg prices have fallen dramatically, from $1.26 per dozen in October 2015 to just 21 cents per dozen in October of this year,” Northey said.

The average number of all layers on hand reached an all-time high of 59.7 million in December 2014. After the outbreak of avian influenza in May 2015, the average number of layers on hand dropped to 44.2 million that month, down 21 percent from April 2015 and 26 percent below May 2014.

By the following month, the average number of layers on hand was down 22 percent to 34.4 million, a decline of 42 percent from June 2014. Iowa egg production plummeted to 763 million in June 2015, down 26 percent from May 2015 and 44 percent below June 2014.

It was the lowest monthly egg production in Iowa since February 2002.

While egg production began to edge up in July 2015, the average number of all layers on hand dropped to 33.6 million, down 43 percent from July 2014 and the lowest inventory since October 2001.

The avian influenza outbreak struck 77 Iowa farms and led to euthanization of 34 million birds to stem the spread of the disease. A study commissioned by the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation concluded that the disease outbreak cost the state’s producers almost 8,500 jobs, deprived Iowans of millions in earnings.

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