Half a Million Chickens to Be Destroyed in Bird Flu Outbreak

March 23, 2022

A commercial chicken farm in Nebraska will destroy 570,000 broilers because a case of highly pathogenic avian influenza – better known as bird flu – was discovered in the flock, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture reported.

Earlier this month, bird flu was discovered in a backyard flock in Merrick County and in wild geese in Lincoln and Cedar and Douglas counties, the department said in a news release. The Lincoln wild goose case was the first instance of bird flu in the state since 2015.

“Having a second farm in Nebraska confirmed to have HPAI is unfortunate, but not completely unexpected,” NDA Director Steve Wellman said in the release. “NDA will use all the resources at our disposal, in coordination with our federal partners to manage a quick response.”

The Department of Agriculture put the commercial farm in Butler County under quarantine after noting a larger than normal number of deaths. The department established a 6.2-mile control zone around the farm, meaning poultry within the zone cannot be moved without state permission. 

The birds “will be humanely depopulated and disposed of in an approved manner,” the department said.

“Symptoms of HPAI in poultry include: a decrease in water consumption; lack of energy and appetite; decreased egg production or soft-shelled, misshapen eggs; nasal discharge, coughing, sneezing; incoordination; and diarrhea. HPAI can also cause sudden death in birds even if they aren’t showing any other symptoms. HPAI can survive for weeks in contaminated environments,” the Department of Agriculture said. 

The Associated Press said more than 13 million chickens and turkeys in at least eight states have been destroyed or will be soon because of bird flu. The first case this year was found in a commercial turkey flock in Indiana.