FLANDREAU, S.D. (AP) - A Flandreau-based company that houses about one-third of the egg-laying chickens in South Dakota is taking extra precautions as a deadly bird flu spreads at turkey and chicken farms throughout the Upper Midwest.
Officials at Dakota Layers say they’re increasing their biosecurity measures to keep a highly contagious strain of avian influenza out of their flock of 1 million hens that lay approximately 1 million eggs a day. The H5N2 virus has cost turkey and chicken producers in the Midwest over 7 million birds since early March.
U.S. agriculture officials say the food supply is safe.
At Dakota Layers, vehicles that come onto the grounds are disinfected, visitors are kept at a minimum and employees are instructed to keep a close eye on where they’ve been and to avoid contact with birds outside of work, KELO-TV reported (https://bit.ly/1JmMPBv ).
So far, six turkey farms have been affected in South Dakota and nearly 290,000 birds have died. No chicken farms in the state have been affected yet, but there have been outbreaks at chicken farms in the bordering states of Iowa, North Dakota and Minnesota.
“We’re trying to limit the amount of traffic coming in,” said Dakota Layers Vice President Jason Ramsdell. “The traffic that does come in, we’re trying to reroute them to stay away from the zones that have been infected. Just paying real close attention to that so we aren’t accidentally bringing in the avian influenza into our facility.”
Ramsdell said there hasn’t been a concern like this since the company began operations about 13 years ago.
“Since we’ve started there’s not been any type of disease like this that makes you worried about your entire facility,” he said.
Dakota Layers says it’s putting together a contingency plan just in case the facility is infected. That plan includes using eggs from other companies to keep up with customer demand.
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