Poultry Operations Recovering

November 09, 2015

All 72 of the commercial poultry operations in Iowa hit by the avian flu have been released from quarantine and can start to bring in new birds.

But a poultry industry spokesman says it could take up to two years before every egg laying operation is back to normal.

“While I hear stories of progress and farms beginning the repopulation effort, I am also hearing stories that the timeline will be at through least all of 2016 — and even into the start of 2017 — before these barns are fully repopulated,” says Randy Olson, executive director of the Iowa Poultry Association.

Olson says a lot of it depends on when the new birds are available, “really primarily due to the available pullet supply and hatching chick supply.”

The turkey industry has recovered a little faster as the cleanup process was a little different. The first turkey operation started restocking in July, and Iowa Turkey Federation executive director, Gretta Irwin, says their progress is also dictated by the supply of new birds.

“We did see some of those farms in Minnesota that had breeder birds also be impacted by influenza, so there has been a slight decline in some of those birds being available,” Irwin explains. “And so the industry has been kind of absorbing that into their production across the Midwest.”

Irwin says all of the turkey operations should be up and running by mid-December.Irwin, says the loss of production in Iowa won’t impact the big turkey eating holiday at the end of this month. She says there should be plenty of turkeys in stores for Thanksgiving, noting those birds weren’t produced in Iowa. “Iowa is a tom-producing state, meaning the meat that we’re raising in Iowa goes into further processed products like deli meats, further processed sausages, ground turkey, those types of products,” Irwin explains.

She says she’s seeing good prices for whole birds right now in the grocery store.”The frozen birds are still 79 to 99 cents-a-pound, and fresh turkeys are going to be a little higher in price just because of the shortness of the transportation and the need to keep it not frozen. Usually around two dollars or so a pound for that product,” Irwin says.