570,000 chickens to be euthanized after bird flu infects poultry farm

That poultry farm in Butler County is now in quarantine and under the authority of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.
Published: Mar. 22, 2022 at 10:15 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 23, 2022 at 9:36 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Confirmed cases of bird flu at a poultry farm in Nebraska now mean that more than half a million chickens being raised for meat will have to be euthanized and uneaten.

That facility is part of a larger network of farms across Nebraska that provide poultry for Costco. Those who work with the farmers said it’s a devastating loss.

The poultry farm in Butler County is now in quarantine and under the authority of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.

Lincoln Premium Poultry is the poultry management company of the farms that work with Costco in Nebraska. They said this outbreak was something they’ve feared since avian flu started showing up in facilities across the U.S.

Lincoln Premium Poultry said they will have to eliminate the entire flock of 570,000 broiler chickens.

“Tested again yesterday and went through a confirmation process over the next several hours to make sure that we knew what we were dealing with which was in fact avian influenza,” said Jessica Kolterman of Lincoln Premium Poultry.

Officials said in recent days, the facility has been operating on the highest biosecurity process. That means limiting those in and out of the barns, changing protective gear, and most recently increasing the testing of birds.

“For example, our farmers always have a set of boots they wear in the barns,” said Kolterman. “They have, you know, other shoes they wear outside so you always have some level of biosecurity.”

Kolterman likened the avian flu to a pandemic, saying in a place like Nebraska where many migratory birds pass through, it’s difficult to mitigate.

“Unfortunately many of those birds are birds that naturally carry avian influenza,” said Kolterman.

As for the effect on the supply chain, Kolterman said there’s no denying the impact of 500,000 fewer birds on the shelves will be felt. Also in recent days, Iowa reported that five million chickens on an egg-laying farm will be euthanized.

In total, as of last week, around 12.5 million chickens and turkeys have been killed due to bird flu exposure in the U.S.

“Maybe you know, not as many rotisserie chickens available throughout the western half of the United States,” said Kolterman. “Maybe not as much fresh chicken, but at the same time I’m hopeful that this will again make people more mindful to see this happen to anyone else down the road.”

Kolterman said what happens with that poultry farm next is up to the Department of Agriculture. It remains in the quarantine phase for the time being, but as for replenishing the chickens and starting up operations again, only time will tell.

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