How the increasing number of bird flu cases is impacting local farms, poultry and egg prices

ELKHART COUNTY, Ind., --The bird flu was detected on a second duck farm in Elkhart county on Tuesday. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the bird flu has been detected in backyard and commercial birds across 25 states.

As of Monday, the CDC identified more than 24 million with the bird flu this year.

Poultry can’t wear masks or socially distance like us, so they have a much harsher fate when infected. Once one member of the flock is sick, the rest of the flock is culled or “eliminated” due to risk of infection. The virus spreads as sick, wild birds visit different flocks—infecting poultry.

I spoke with Rebecca Miller, the owner of a local farm, Miller Goats and Gardens, about the impact a sick bird would have on her farm of 50 hens and 25 chickens.

“If you get that the whole floor can be wiped out so I could lose that entire part of the business. We also use her eggs in her baking and we saw some baked goods here too. And for our own personal use,” said Miller.

Miller said that her chickens are carefully monitored for signs of illness, she asks other farmers to keep an eye on their birds as well.

Prices at the grocery store are increasing, but the bird flu outbreak is coming at a terrible time amid record-high inflation and Easter weekend which calls for an increased demand in eggs.

According to Jayson Lusk, the department head of agriculture economics at Purdue University, the price increase is directly related to lower production rates.

“The rising prices that we’re observing at the moment are signaling us that egg and poultry products are scarcer today than they were in the past,” said Lusk.

According to Lusk, egg prices are up nearly two percent since last month and up 11% when compared to this time last year. For poultry, prices have increased by 13% since last year.

Prices have increased, but Lusk said there is no need to worry about stores running low on eggs and poultry any time soon.

“The situation will have to get much worse than it is right now for us to expect widespread shortages,” said Lusk.

The increased prices are partly due to inflation which is increasing food prices by 10%, but poultry and egg prices are increasing at a higher rate.

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