Bird flu, also known as Avian influenza, has been quite prevalent in the news lately, raising some concerns for many people. The good news is that so far NO cases have been reported in TN. The outbreak, while not over yet, doesn't seem to be quite as severe as the 2015 bird flu outbreak that led to the destruction of 50 million birds.
Iowa has been hit the hardest, with over 13 million birds affected. Areas with high concentrations of commercial poultry flocks are where severe outbreaks are likely to be found.
Commercial Turkeys seem to be the most affected, with an estimated 1.5 million birds having been destroyed.
Europe has been hit badly too, with some areas mandating lock downs for all backyard flocks.
Expect commercial Turkey and Chicken prices to continue to rise over the next few months.
Most pastured poultry producers end up caught in the middle when these outbreaks occur, and in some cases receive most of the blame. By the nature of pasturing, birds are kept outside in the open air (versus covered barns) which in theory makes them more susceptible to pathogens spread by wild birds.
However, at least here in the states, there seems to be little evidence that this is actually the case. Sadly, the official response to the outbreaks usually has the commercial industries protection in mind, and will not hesitate to destroy backyard flocks if they are seen as a potential threat. This led in 2015 to several AI negative backyard flocks to be unfairly destroyed.
I will be taking some common sense bio security measures for my flock moving forward, but as of now the AI risk here in rural Tennessee seems very low. I continue to be a believer that raising poultry outside in the sunshine will always generate better results then in tightly packed indoor spaces in a commercial setting.
Shortages: so far this year we haven't experienced any serious shortages in the industry. Hatcheries seem to be keeping up with increased backyard demand, and so far haven't been widely affected by AI. There was a bit of a shortage of shrink bags back in 2020, but supplies seem to be holding steady now, and I keep a good stock on hand.
Drought is a developing concern. We have had below average rainfall so far this year, and an increase in high winds. The cool weather has helped to off set this, but if it continues into the summer we may be in trouble. There are already severe droughts going on in many other parts of the country, which are not improving.
Feed is still in good supply, but inflation has hit this sector hard. This week a 50 lb bag of non GMO broiler feed went up another $1. This is the second price increase in the last couple months. Packaging materials have gone up significantly too. I'm not planning on raising prices for now, but it may be something I have to consider in the near future if prices continue to rise. Moving forward I will be looking for ways to cut costs (without sacrificing quality of course!) and raise poultry more efficiently.
As always, I appreciate your continued support and business.
What are your thoughts? How are you handling and avoiding inflation?
Till next time,