Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) has been affecting US poultry flocks for almost two years now. Cases began in February 2022. Total cases and birds affected by month are shown in Figure 1 & Figure 2.
This past summer it looked like HPAI may finally be coming to an end as no commercial cases were detected. However, cases have surged again this fall. A total of 1.37 million birds were affected in October, and another 7.98 million birds were affected in November. So far in December, 7.19 million birds have been affected. Almost all affected birds are in commercial flocks, so commercial flock cases drive changes in market fundamentals. Recently, a Kansas facility operated by the largest egg producing company in the US experienced an outbreak requiring the removal of 684,000 laying hens (about 1.6%) of their total flock and in November, 1.2 million chickens had to be slaughtered on an Iowa farm to prevent spreading of the disease.
Figure 1. US HPAI Cases by Month
Figure 2. US Birds Affected by Month
Time will tell if this resurgence in cases will be as severe as the outbreak last year. USDA data does not yet show a reduction in egg production or layer inventory (Figure 3). Though both will likely come with the bird losses in November and December.
Figure 3. US Layer Inventory and Egg Production
Prices for eggs are also back down to more “normal” levels, after the US rebuilt layer inventories over the past few months (Figure 4). If layer numbers and egg production fall again due to additional HPAI, egg prices will likely move higher again.
Figure 4. Prices Received for Eggs