Local farms on lock-down because of bird flu: Will it affect the price of eggs?

Posted at 5:33 PM, Apr 23, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-23 17:33:05-04

IONIA COUNTY, Mich. -- More than seven million cases of bird flu (highly pathogenic avian influenza) have been confirmed throughout 13 states just this month, according to the USDA. Those states include Wisconsin and Iowa, but Michigan farmers are taking serious precautions.

Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch in Saranac produces 60 percent of Michigan’s eggs. Corporate Vice President and owner Greg Herbruck said the bird flu is a “catastrophic risk” to their birds but not their eggs or to people.

“We hope we get through this migratory season,” said Herbruck. "It’s winding down, but it’s still active."

FOX 17 spoke with Herbruck over the phone Thursday morning because he said his facility is on “total lock-down.” That means no visitors, delays of routine industry audits, and heightened bio-security from employees to truck drivers.

“We have lots of Lysol,” said Herbruck. "We’re spraying foot pedals on the vehicles and floor mats, and the drivers are stepping in the same footbath that our staff would be, so that when they come on site, we’ve protected another layer."

These are regular safety measures that are taken, but now they are stepped up, Herbruck said, including disinfecting all vehicles on site, requiring a wash certificate from truck drivers, and using foot baths for all employees and drivers.

But despite of these precautions, Herbruck does not believe the price of eggs will be affected.

“We’re very blessed that this is not the humans that help us take care of our hens, and then the egg product is not at risk at all either,” said Herbruck.

USDA officials agree that our food is protected.

“The food supply is safe,” said Dr. John Clifford, USDA chief veterinary officer. “The birds that get (highly pathogenic avian influenza) do not go into the food supply. We humanely depopulate them and dispose of them properly.”

Of more than 7.3 million bird cases in the United States, the USDA reports the majority have affected commercial turkey farms.