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Bird flu found in hens at Michigan’s top egg producer

Chickens on traditional free range poultry farm
Avian influenza was found in poultry at Green Meadow Organics facility owned by Herbruck’s, the top egg producer in Michigan. (iStock photo by monticelllo)
  • Scientists detected bird flu in a flock at the state's largest egg producer, Herbruck’s 
  • News of the outbreak comes days after state officials confirmed the virus in a dairy herd in Montcalm County 
  • Experts say consumers could potentially see the price of eggs increase as the virus has attacked flocks across the country

May 1: Michigan farmers must step up bird flu fight under new emergency order
April 22: Bird flu hits turkey flock in Newaygo County as virus spreads in Michigan

The highly pathogenic avian influenza, or bird flu, was detected in poultry at Michigan’s top egg producer, Herbruck’s. 

The infected flock was found at the company’s Green Meadow Organics facility in Ionia County. This is the fourth case of avian influenza in a commercial facility since the disease was first detected in the state in 2022, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said in a statement Tuesday.


The virus is deadly especially for chickens, as the mortality rate for infected hens is 90% to 100%, sometimes within 48 hours, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


“Over the weekend, our company veterinarian noticed sick birds at the facility and lab results confirmed our fears that Avian Influenza was present," Herbruck's Poultry Ranch CEO Greg Herbruck said in a statement to Michigan Farm News and other media outlets.

“Our team worked quickly to implement protocols to protect the rest of our flocks — along with our longstanding biosecurity measures — including prohibiting movement between our Green Meadow Organics facility and other sites.” 

Green Meadow Organics is separate from the company’s main poultry farm.

“Herbruck’s is heartbroken by the loss of any hen, and we were devastated to learn that some of the hens at our Green Meadow Organics facility are infected with highly pathogenic Avian Influenza,” Herbruck said in the statement.  Bridge has reached out for additional comment.

In the case of any outbreak, farmers are required to “depopulate” or kill the infected birds to  prevent the disease from spreading to other birds, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

“Once they depopulate then they're gonna have to disinfect … and then it can be several months before they're back up and producing at that farm again,” said Ernie Birchmeier, senior industry relations specialist for the Michigan Farm Bureau. 

Potential impact on egg prices

Birchmeier added that consumers could see a potential increase in the cost of eggs as the bird flu has impacted other commercial farms across the country. 

“There's not an automatic supply of new birds that go into a facility,” he said. “Those birds typically will need to be eggs, will need to be set and then hatched. The birds are going to need to grow up and it's going to take them several months before they're ready to start producing eggs.”

As of Wednesday, bird flu had been detected in three commercial flocks and seven backyard flocks across the U.S. in a 30-day period, affecting 3.85 million birds, according to the USDA. The other two commercial flocks are in Texas and South Dakota. 

"Michigan's egg farmers are among the most proactive in the country, with their diligence leading to rapid detection of HPAI in this flock,"  said Dr. Nancy Barr, executive director of Michigan Allied Poultry Industries. "Strict biosecurity measures are in place to protect flocks from the increased threat of HPAI."


News of the infected hen at Herbruck’s comes days after the Michigan agriculture officials confirmed the virus in cattle in Montcalm County. State officials said the source of the spread was from infected cattle coming from Texas. 

“As the weather remains cool and wild birds continue their migration, conditions are ideal for the virus to thrive and spread,” said Dr. Nora Wineland, state veterinarian. "Keeping HPAI out of Michigan’s domestic animals remains a team effort, and it must be a top priority for all."

The virus is not only spread directly from infected birds but can also be contracted by touching equipment or clothing exposed to the virus.

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