Where do we go after the Iowa HPAI Break”?

Apr 24, 2015

This is an editorial I did not wish to write.

The Monday 20th April announcement that flocks at Sunrise Farm in Harris, Osceola County, Iowa were confirmed as being infected with H5N2 HPAI came as a sharp surprise to the U.S. egg-production industry. In 2015 to date only a single commercial egg farm comprising 200,000 confined hens in an aviary operation in Jefferson County, Wisconsin had been infected. Previous and current outbreaks have affected growing turkeys in Minnesota and the Dakotas in addition to scattered backyard multi-species flocks and isolates from migratory waterfowl and raptors.

The involvement of a complex with as many as 4 million hens has posed significant challenges with respect to depletion and disposal. For years we have considered alternatives for large confined units without any breakthrough or innovation to replace manual handling, euthanasia in dumpsters flushed with carbon dioxide followed by burial on farms or in landfills. The Sunrise situation represents uncharted territory for APHIS and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

Time is important in depleting infected flocks especially with a virus which appears to have a prolonged death time. This reality allows hens to excrete virus for days before death occurs creating opportunities for airborne dissemination. Although there is no epidemiologic evidence from the 2015 cases in turkeys in Minnesota that H5N2 is actively spread on air currents, this route of infection cannot be discounted when ultra-large complexes are located in close proximity. Concentrating large complexes in limited geographic areas to take advantage of infrastructure, topography and permitting is contrary to the principle of Conceptual Biosecurity.

Establishing mega-complexes, especially in-line breaking enterprises such as are located in Iowa contributes to efficiency and optimal cost but these units are vulnerable to catastrophic disease. Although defects in Conceptual Biosecurity which heighten risk can be reduced by investment in Structural Biosecurity (including fencing and secured gates, change-rooms with showers, vehicle wash stations, hardened roads and bird-proofed housing) the introduction of a new pathogen or route of infection may elevate the risks and consequences of infection.


Egg Industry News


USDA Prices and Inventory Report, April 20th 2015

Apr 24, 2015

The Midwest market was unchanged in price compared to the previous week indicating a bottom and correlated closely with the 3-year post-Easter trend. Possible outbreaks of HPAI will be the unpredictable factor influencing price going forward. Both producers and buyers will obviously be monitoring the HPAI situation closely and will react to any additional outbreaks.

The National stock of generic eggs increased by 1.6 percent (3.0 percent last week), suggesting that the market was still slightly oversupplied. Total stock comprised 1,400 thousand cases, of which 80.5 percent comprised shell eggs, compared with 79.5 percent during the previous week.

Eggs broken under FSIS inspection this past week increased by 3.6 percent to 1.457 million cases. The proportion from in-line complexes attained 58.2 percent compared to 60.1 percent last week suggesting diversion to liquid by shell-egg producers. The price of breaking stock delivered to Central plants was stable with a range of 63 to 67 cents per dozen (up 2 cents on the high end compared to the previous week). Checks advanced by 1.5 percent to a range of 49-57 cents per dozen. The effect of depleting approximately 3 to 4 million hens on an Iowa in-line operation as a result of HPAI will become apparent next week.

Specialty egg inventory was down by 3.5 percent but with organic stock comprising 48.1 percent of the total of 137,000 cases


Joanne Ivy, president and CEO of the American Egg Board reports on the State of the Industry

Apr 23, 2015


Recently Joanne Ivy, president and CEO of the American Egg Board reported on the State of the Industry at the Egg Industry Center Convention in Des Moines. The growth in consumption and the promotional activities of the AEB are described in the slide set which can be viewed under the PRESENTATIONS tab

View the presentation at http://egg-cite.com/presentations/ivy/default.aspx


Poster presented at 9th international Symposium in Avian Influenza – Athens, GA, USA

Apr 23, 2015


CEVA has developed an effective genetically engineered vector vaccine against H5 avian influenza. The product is used commercially in North Africa. Although current Federal policy disallows vaccination, if eradication proves infeasible in the face of extensive spread, the CEVA product will prove valuable in a program to suppress clinical infection.

View the poster at http://egg-cite.com/presentations/gardin/default.aspx


EPA to Announce Timeline for the RFS

Apr 23, 2015

Just in case you have been holding your breath in anticipation  you will be relieved to learn that on Friday April 17th, the EPA announced that the RFS for 2015 will be released on June 1st and that the  2016 obligations will be finalized by November 30, 2015,

EPA was forced to release a timeline as a result of litigation brought by the American Petroleum Institute and by the American Fuel and Petro Chemical Manufacturers Associations.  It is noted that EPA failed to issue the 2014 and 2015 RFS rules as required.

The EPA will “re-propose” (Washington-speak for we screwed up) volume requirements for 2015 that reflect the quantity of renewable fuel actually used in 2014” according to the April 17th report in the NCC Washington Report.


Prospects for the 2015 Corn Crop

Apr 23, 2015

Prospects for the 2015 corn crop will depend on the rate of planting, soil moisture and the time and uniformity in germination. The April 20th USDA Crop Progress Report posted the following moisture levels for topsoil in 48 states:-       

  Week Ending        Very Short%        Short%      Adequate%      Surplus%

     April 12th                    6                    17                   53                 24     

     April 19th                          6                    19                   57                 18

For the current week planting of corn advanced to 9 percent of the 2015 crop up from 2 percent for the week ending April 12th and compared to a 4-year average of 13 percent by April 19th.

Summaries of weekly USDA reports will be posted each week going forward.


Neogen Disinfectants Effective Against Influenza Virus

Apr 23, 2015

Neogen released details on their range of disinfectants which are effective against avian influenza.  These include:

  • DuPont Virkon S – a peroxymonosulfate  broad-spectrum bacteriocide and virucide is suitable for contaminated vehicles and equipment
  • BioSentry BioPhene - a phenolic effective on surfaces with a high organic load.  This product is recommended for decontamination of houses and for footbaths
  • BioSentry BioQuat 20 Disinfectant - this QAC is non-corrosive, odorless and non-staining.  It is recommended for disinfection of vehicles.  It is essential to use a non-ionic detergent to wash and remove biological material before using any QAC.

Neogen offer consultation on the selection and application of disinfectants at (859) 254-1221.

Additional information is available by accessing www.neogen.com.



USPOULTRY to Promote Environmental Stewardship

Apr 23, 2015

In observance of Earth Day USPOULTRY released a video series highlighting environmental stewardship on poultry and egg farms.  The first two in the series feature farms receiving the USPOULTRY Family Farm Environmental Excellence Award.  Criteria considered in selection include manure disposal, planning of nutrient management, community involvement, wildlife enhancement and participation in education and outreach programs.  Although the first two farms to be featured produce broilers, it is intended to showcase egg production units.


Daybreak Farm in Wisconsin Infected with HPAI

Apr 23, 2015

William Rehm, president of family-owned  Daybreak Foods announced Thursday 23rd that the Lake Mills Complex in Jefferson County, WI has been infected with avian influenza. The in-line breaking operation has a nominal capacity of 800,000 hens in six houses and operates with a high level of biosecurity.

Daybreak holds 13 million hens in complexes in Wisconsin, Ohio, Minnesota and Iowa and is recognized as an industry leader in hygienic operation and adherence to strict operating procedures required by customers.


Sad Passing of Ron Plylar

Apr 22, 2015

Ron Plylar passed away on Friday April 17th at the University of Maryland Medical Center.  He was born 72 years ago in Spokane, WA but was raised in Alabama.  He graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in Business Administration and earned a Masters of Business degree from Memphis State University.

His career included employment with Merck and Hoffmann-La Roche and with Intervet after acquisition of the company from the late Dr. Hiram Lasher.  In 1987 Ron and his wife Dr. Joan Leonard established Biomune in Lenexa, KS.  The company subsequently partnered with Lohmann Animal Health and Zeon of Japan.  Biomune was acquired by Ceva Sante Animale of France in 2005 and Ron retired in 2008.

Ron and Joan also owned and managed Avipath LLC producing SPF eggs before selling this business in 2010.  Ron was active in the poultry industry, serving as an officer in the Association of Veterinary Biologics Companies and the American Association of Avian Pathologists.

Condolences are extended to his widow Joan of Gig Harbor, WA and his family in South Carolina, Maryland and Alabama.


HPAI Strikes Large Iowa Complex

Apr 21, 2015

The USDA-APHIS announced on April 20th that H5N2 avian influenza virus was isolated from flocks at Sunrise Farm located near Harris, in Osceola County, Northwest Iowa.

According to a spokesperson for the owners, Sonstegard Foods, the farm houses 3.8 million hens although the official USDA release cited 5.3 million hens, probably representing the farm capacity.

The complex produces eggs which are broken in-line for liquid. With a nominal complement of 4 million hens the complex could produce 40 tons of raw product per day.

he USDA will commence depopulation and disposal of carcasses. This will be a laborious task as the magnitude of the situation represents “uncharted territory” for both the State and the Federal authorities. Recently, following an outbreak on a turkey farm,  State Veterinarian, Dr. David Schmitt, of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship commented on contingency plans and action to be taken in the event of infection in a commercial-scale farm.

Obviously other producers in a state with 53 million hens and an egg industry with $2 billion in annual sales value are tightening biosecurity. It remains to be seen whether other units have been infected and are currently incubating the H5N2 virus.


Maine Defeats Confinement of Hens Bill

Apr 21, 2015

On April 1st, H.B. 357, An Act to Ensure Humane Conditions for Egg-Laying Poultry was designated “Ought Not To Pass” by the Committee on Agriculture. The wording of the Bill followed California Proposition #2 with exceptions for transport, exhibition, pre-slaughter holding and for research. 

The Bill was introduced in February 26th 2015 and was subject to a hearing on March 19th.  The State Director for the HSUS, Katie Hansberry testified in favor of the Bill.  Her comments were countered by Jon Olsen of the Maine Farm Bureau Association and Dr. Michele Walsh, the State Veterinarian.


Speaker Line-up at UEP Meeting

Apr 21, 2015

United Egg Producers has announced the roster of speakers at the Legislative Board Meeting to be held from May 4th to 6th in Washington DC.  Key speakers will be:-

  • Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee
  • Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) Ranking Member, Senate Agriculture Committee
  • Joel Brandenberger – President National Turkey Federation.

Topics to be considered by the Government Relations Committee will include dietary guidelines, the proposed EPA Waters of the United States Rule, GMO, the Renewable Fuels Standard and trade issues.  Meetings will take place from Monday May 4th through Wednesday May 6th.  For further details and accommodations contact the UEP at www.unitedegg.com.



Shane Commentary


Is Wisconsin Governor Over-reacting?

Apr 24, 2015

On Monday April 20th Wisconsin Governor, Scott Walker declared a “state of emergency” following outbreaks of H5N2 avian influenza involving 125,000 turkeys on a farm in Barron County, confirmed on the 16th of April and concurrently a backyard flock in Juneau County. Previously a flock of 200,000 layers on a cage-free confined farm in Jefferson County was confirmed with H5N2 on April 11th

Walker has activated the state National Guard to “fight the infection”.  For the benefit of Governor Walker, the USDA-APHIS is capable of establishing quarantines, depopulating the affected flocks and initiating surveillance in the infected zone and the control area.  The only feasible application for the National Guard would be to assist in imposing quarantines by road blocks unless they have specific expertise in poultry veterinary medicine or decontamination. 

In his statement announcing the state of emergency Walker stated “we must act quickly and efficiently to contain the outbreak and protect domestic poultry”.

Could it be that Governor Walker in advancing his presidential aspirations is demonstrating to his constituency that he is ready to respond to real or contrived emergencies or is he protecting the best interest of the relatively small poultry industry of 5 million hens in his state.

It would be unfortunate if the serious issue of avian influenza becomes clouded by political grandstanding.


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Dr. Simon M. Shane
Simon M. Shane
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Industry Prices: Fri Apr 24
 Corn3.65 $/bu
 Soybeans9.70 $/bu
 Soybean Meal314.60 $/ton
 Eggs, Producer84  ¢/doz
 Eggs, Warehouse 100-103 ¢/doz