Rembrandt Foods is nearing completion of the disinfection process at its egg laying operation in Rembrandt, Iowa, with plans to begin repopulating the flocks there in December.

The company had to euthanize an estimated 5.5 million chickens after highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza had been detected there in the spring. The farm has since been under quarantine.

“We are expecting to have the quarantine the USDA put us under lifted by the end of October after we pass inspections,” Jonathan Spurway, Rembrandt Foods vice president, told the Dickinson County News. “Once that happens, we will be authorized to repopulate.”

Spurway estimates it will take between 12 and 18 months for the Rembrandt operation to be fully repopulated.

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The company has already started to call back workers who were laid off as a result of the outbreak.

Iowa, according to the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) had more birds affected by avian influenza than any other state. Iowa had 75 avian influenza detections with the first occurring on April 19 and the last taking place on June 17. Nearly 32 million birds were affected by avian influenza.

Rembrandt Foods is stepping up its biosecurity efforts to try to prevent another avian influenza infection. USDA officials are anticipating a possible return of avian influenza as cooler weather in the fall approaches.