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Agriculture

Bird flu found in southwest Iowa commercial flock of nearly 920,000 egg-laying chickens

031122-chickens-iowa
Charlie Neibergall
/
AP
In this Nov. 16, 2009 file photo, chickens stand in their cages at a farm near Stuart, Iowa.

State and federal agriculture officials have confirmed deadly bird flu in a flock of commercial layer chickens in southwest Iowa’s Taylor County, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship announced Friday. It’s the third outbreak of highly pathogenic avian flu in the state this year.

A spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Agriculture said there were nearly 920,000 layer chickens in the Taylor County flock.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has issued a disaster proclamation to use state resources to track, monitor, detect and contain the spread of the deadly virus. The proclamation also helps dispose of the dead birds.

Bird flu is rapidly spreading across the eastern half of the country. Iowa and the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed bird flu in a commercial flock of 50,000 turkeys in northwest Iowa’s Buena Vista County on March 6 and a backyard flock of chickens and ducks in western Iowa’s Pottawattamie County on March 1.

During news conferences for the other two outbreaks, Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig and State Veterinarian Jeff Kaisand have urged producers and backyard flock owners to practice strict biosecurity, like limiting visitors on their farms and limiting contact between their birds and wild birds, which can carry the virus.

“It is critically important that livestock producers and their veterinarians closely monitor the health of their animals,” said Naig during a March 7 news conference after bird flu was confirmed in a Buena Vista County commercial turkey flock. “If they observe any signs consistent with high path avian influenza, we ask that they report that immediately to us.”

Iowa is the top egg-producing state in the country. Nearly 15 billion eggs were produced in the state in 2021.