Avian flu strikes Cal-Maine egg operation in Texas Panhandle

After seven dairy farms in Texas are hit by avian influenza, the virus claims nearly 2 million chickens in the state.

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A Cal-Maine Foods egg operation in the Texas panhandle has been struck by highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).

The affected premises is located in Farwell, which is in Parmer County. According to Cal-Maine Foods, 1.6 million laying hens and 337,000 pullets were affected, and all of those birds are being depopulated.

“Production at the facility has temporarily ceased as the company follows the protocols prescribed by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture),” Cal-Maine Foods said in a statement.

“The company remains dedicated to robust biosecurity programs across its locations; however, no farm is immune from HPAI. HPAI is still present in the wild bird population and the extent of possible future outbreaks, with heightened risk during the migration seasons, cannot be predicted.”

The company said the Parmer County operation accounts for about 3.6% of its total flock. Cal-Maine Foods is working to secure production from other facilities to minimize disruption to its customers.

Avian influenza situation in Texas

This new HPAI detection follows the recent confirmation of the presence of HPAI in seven Texas dairy herds.

“This is absolutely devastating news for Cal-Maine and the entire panhandle region, which has already suffered so much already,” Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller said. “Given this latest development, all producers must practice heightened biosecurity measures. The rapid spread of this virus means we must act quickly.”

“Producers need to work with us and report cases right away. Transparency is going to be key to navigating and mitigating this outbreak. I encourage producers to work with state and national officials to report any symptomatic animals as soon as you identify them.”

According to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), this is the first commercial poultry flock to have been struck by HPAI during the 2022-24 outbreak, although there was one commercial upland gamebird operation affected in April 2022.

Two backyard poultry flocks were also affected by HPAI earlier in 2024, but in accordance with rules set by the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH), those cases should not have any impact on global poultry trade.

Earlier Cal-Maine Foods HPAI cases

Cal-Maine Foods, the world’s largest egg producer, has spent most of the past two years free of HPAI. It finally struck the company on December 13, 2023, when a flock of 684,000 laying hens that are part of its operations in Rice County, Kansas, was affected.

Two more Rice County flocks were later affected within the next month, involving a flock of 800,000 layers and 240,000 pullets, APHIS reported.

To learn more about HPAI cases in commercial poultry flocks in the United States, Mexico and Canada, see an interactive map on WATTPoultry.com.   

View our continuing coverage of the global avian influenza situation

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