Turkey losses to bird flu jump by one-fifth in new outbreaks
More than 1.6 million turkeys have died in outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in two months, said USDA data on Thursday. The USDA listed eight new outbreaks, affecting 275,465 turkeys and boosting the U.S. total by 22%.
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Overall, nearly 17.3 million birds in domestic flocks, nearly all of them chickens or turkeys, have died in the first appearance of HPAI in two years.
The largest losses have been on egg farms, where 11.7 million laying hens have died of the viral disease or in cullings of infected flocks.
South Dakota has been hit the hardest by HPAI on turkey farms. Eighteen of the nation’s 23 outbreaks have been in South Dakota, affecting more than 806,000 turkeys — half the U.S. total. The largest individual outbreak in the country claimed 240,000 turkeys in Meeker County, Minnesota.
U.S. farms raised 214 million turkeys last year. Minnesota was the highest-producing turkey state, with 40.5 million birds.
More than 50 million chickens and turkeys died in an HPAI epidemic in 2014-15, including 12% of the nation’s egg-laying hens.