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Update on Avian Influenza

Words by: Paul Turbeville

We’ve had a few questions about the situation at our farms, so we figured it’s time for an update. So far, we have not had any Avian Influenza (AI) at our small family farms. However, factory farms in the Midwest continue to suffer setbacks. Even if only one hen tests positive for AI, they must destroy all hens on site. This has caused the loss of over 5 million hens at one time in Iowa. So, in total we have seen over 10% of the laying hen population destroyed in the U.S. We are by no means immune from Avian Influenza, but we do have a few things going for us:

  1. Small Family Farmers: We believe that each of our small family farmers are the best possible stewards for the hens. Because they typically live at the same place as their hens, they can maintain strict control over who visits the farm and ensure that all of our safety precautions are being implemented. They aren’t simply an employee at an egg factory. This is their livelihood and they care deeply about the health of their flocks.
  1. Small Scale Production: Each of our small family farms represents a very small percentage of our overall production and they are not very close to each other. So, even if one were to suffer an AI outbreak, it should not catastrophically damage our overall supply.
  1. Geography: Our hens are located in the Northeastern U.S. which so far has not had any AI outbreaks. The outbreaks have primarily been in the Midwest (Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska) along a migratory bird path called the Mississippi Flyway. Migratory activity should be slowing down now until later in the year when we will have to be especially careful with migration along the East Coast.

4. Proactive Precautions: Our family farms have been very proactive with the AI outbreak. We decided quickly to move all of our Free Range hens indoors because of the disease threat. Both USDA and Certified Humane have recommended this practice for Free Range birds due to the severity of the outbreak. While we hate keeping our hens indoors when they’d normally be outside playing on the grass, we feel it’s the right thing to do to keep them happy and healthy during these extraordinary times. To make the best of the situation, we have been putting fresh, organic hay inside the barns.

Hopefully this answers your questions. Thanks for staying tuned in and supporting our small family farms!


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