UPDATE 2-Bird flu "probable" in Iowa chicken broiler breeding farm

Thu Apr 30, 2015 2:41pm EDT
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(Adds companies, trade group, Bunge CEO comment)

By P.J. Huffstutter

CHICAGO, April 30 (Reuters) - An Iowa-based chicken broiler breeding farm has initially tested positive for the highly pathogenic H5 bird flu, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship said on Thursday.

The facility in Kossuth County, Iowa, houses an estimated 19,000 birds, state officials said. Birds were dying in greater than normal numbers at the breeding farm, which is a typical sign of influenza infection in a flock.

This is thought to be first time the avian influenza virus has affected a broiler breeding farm in this outbreak. Such breeding farms are traditionally known for having extremely tight biosecurity systems.

Though the operation is small compared to some of the other poultry farm sites in the Midwest that have been affected by the current outbreak, the probable breach of a chicken broiler breeder's biosecurity underscores the potential for the country's poultry meat industry supply chain to be affected.

Typically, such facilities' chickens lay fertile eggs, which are sent to a hatchery to produce chicks that are later raised and slaughtered for meat.

Additional testing to confirm the finding is underway at the federal Agriculture Department of Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services' (APHIS) National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa.

The National Chicken Council, the industry's leading trade group, declined to comment, saying it was waiting for the results of the additional tests.   Continued...