Avian flu outbreak affecting egg supplies

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A multi-state outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza, including Kentucky, has reduced the United States’ egg laying hen population to the smallest size in at least seven years.

More than 50 million birds have died.  As a result, egg prices are on the rise in many grocery stores and some folks are wondering if the eggs and poultry products that remain are safe to consume.

While you may see fewer eggs available in some areas, there is little need to worry about the safety of poultry in the stores because no products from infected flocks are entering the food chain.

Because of the severity of the outbreak, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture has issued new restrictions on poultry that might impact your participation in county fairs or other poultry activities.

All avian comingling sales events are now banned, including but not limited to stockyards, flea markets and swap meets.  You also cannot sell birds at any fair or show including auctions.

Private sales and direct movement of birds from farm to farm is still okay in accordance with Kentucky statutes.

All birds from other states have to come through a clean facility before crossing into Kentucky, and those transporting birds into the state need to have a permit from the Kentucky state veterinarian’s office, http://www.kyagr.com/statevet/.

Chicks must be bought from hatcheries that are classified as avian influenza H5/H7 clean. If a hatchery is in an infected state, you cannot buy chicks from them if they are within seven miles of an infected farm.

Exhibition events, shows and fairs are restricted to intrastate movement only.  No out-of-state entries will be allowed.

Dr. Robert Stout, state veterinarian, encourages poultry producers and all other bird owners to take biosecurity measures to prevent their birds from being infected with avian influenza or other bird diseases:

Keep your distance – Isolate your birds from visitors and other birds.

Keep it clean – Prevent germs from spreading by cleaning shoes, tools, and equipment.

Do not haul disease home – Clean vehicles and cages.

Do not borrow from your neighbor – Avoid sharing tools and equipment with neighbors.

Know the signs – Watch for early signs to prevent the spread of disease

Report sick birds – Report unusual signs of disease or unexpected deaths to the Office of the Kentucky State Veterinarian at (502) 573-0282, option 3, or through USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593.

The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment has several helpful publications about avian influenza at http://afspoultry.ca.uky.edu/poultrypubs#Influenza.

Another helpful resource is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Health Birds website at http://healthybirds.aphis.usda.gov/.

For more information on the avian influenza outbreak, please contact the Carroll County Cooperative Extension Service at (502) 732-7030. 


Dates of interest

July 15– Crop Reporting Deadline.  Crop reporting keeps producers eligible for current USD programs and may make them eligible for additional disaster programs in the future.  Please contact the Carroll County FSA/USDA office, (502)-732-6931, for more information.


Christin Herbst is the Carroll County Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources. Call her at (502) 732-7030 or send e-mail to Christin.Herbst@uky.edu.