DES MOINES Iowa (AP) – Is it OK for free-range chickens to not move freely?
Holiday egg producers are asking this question as they attempt to make their product more transparent while also protecting the chickens from highly contagious bird influenza that has claimed the lives of 28 million birds.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that you bring your chickens home to guard against the disease. Some people do keep their chickens inside however, not all agree.
John Bronckwell (CEO of Egg Innovations at Indiana), said all of his chickens that have been infected by bird flu in states will remain in captivity “until this risk passes.”
Bronquel stated that they would keep the girls in prison at least until June. “If they go through four more weeks without any commercial break-ins, then we will attempt to get them out.”
According to the USDA in 29 states, cases of bird flu were found in backyard flocks and commercial poultry farms. The disease spreads primarily through the droppings infected migratory wildbirds.
Farms Ethan Brankwell communicates in Illinois, Indiana Kentucky Ohio, Wisconsin. Each of these states has had at least one bird flu case.
Others, like Mike Badger (CEO of the American Association of Grazing Poultry Producers), take a different approach.
Badger, a Pennsylvania-based non-profit organization with around 1,000 members, believes that birds kept outdoors are more susceptible to infection than chickens or turkeys raised in large, enclosed barns.
Badger explained, “We put the animals out and they come in contact with the environment. So I believe that they have a stronger immune system to deal with threats as they occur.”
The immune system of chickens living outside was not significantly different from indoors, according to a study. Badger suggests that the absence of viruses may be due to lower animal density, less air movement, and less staff participation in pasture-grown operations.
According to him, the decision about whether to place chickens inside or not to allow wild waterfowl to migrate is one that farms make “based on their comfort in taking the risk”.
Only a small portion of U.S. egg production is from non-commercial flocks. 6 million chickens (or 2 percent) are currently on the loose. About 4.2 million chickens (or 1.3 percent) are from grazing-raised poultry.
The amount of time that chickens spend outside and the space they are given determines whether they are grazing or free.
According to the American Society of Humans (which approves egg operations), free range chickens usually have at least 21.8 sq. feet (2.75 m) of outdoor space. The chickens spend most of the year outside, except when it is inclement.
Approving organizations have protocols in place for high-risk situations. These allow temporary housing indoors for an unspecified time period – after a farm reports an outbreak close to an outside band. Inspection agencies oversee farms to ensure that they are not using bird flu as an excuse for keeping birds indoors for too long.
Bronckwell claimed that no of his farms had been infected during the last major eruption in 2015. He also said that he hasn’t had any infections this year.
This means that consumers may be purchasing freedom eggs at a higher price because they might have been fed chickens that were temporarily kept in their home. However, manufacturers claim that people who pay more for free-range or grazing egg have concerns about animal welfare. They also don’t want to risk the virus.
Brunnquell pointed out that certification agencies monitor farms to verify they aren’t using bird influenza as an excuse for keeping birds in quarantine for too long.
Due to concerns about bird flu, and an increase in national food prices, eggs of all types have become more expensive recently.
According to the USDA, last week’s conventional egg prices increased by 40 cents per dozen to $ 1.47, while those without eggs in a container rose 3 cents to $ 2.40 per dozen. The national average for organic eggs last week was $ 4.39 per dozen. This is compared to $ 3.65 in the previous week.
The price of eggs in bakeries and other food products spiked to an all-time high on April 8.
According to Karin Rispoli (Urner Barry’s egg market correspondent), the price of so-called “break-even eggs”, which are later broken down by processors and sold as containers weighing up 50 pounds or more, was $ 2.51 per pound. This is a New Jersey-based food research firm. Analytics Company. Rispoli stated that many bird flu victims were egg layer workers at farms that supply breakwater eggs, which are used as food ingredients.
Avian flu will likely remain a problem for at most a few weeks. Migratory waterfowl will continue to move along the Mississippi route through June. Bird flu cases have been reduced in the past due to warmer temperatures and the cessation of migration. This has allowed Indian and poultry farmers to start the process of herd renewal and production resumption.