First Minnesota turkey farm hit by HPAI restocks

Minnesota turkey farm identified March 4 with HPAI H5N2 becomes first operation to restock birds.

While new cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) continue to be found in the Upper Midwest, one of the first poultry farms to be affected has restocked its turkeys.

The Pope County farm was restocked with new birds June 7, Dr. Dale Lauer, an assistant director with the Minnesota Board of Animal Health (MBAH), told The Associated Press.

According to the MBAH website, the Lac Qui Parle county operation affected by HPAI was cleared from quarantine May 29 but it has not yet restocked its turkey barns.

The Pope County farm is the first affected farm in Minnesota to reach the milestone of resuming production. A few other farms that were among the earliest to see the H5N2 virus will be restocked by next week, Lauer said.

HPAI was confirmed on the farm March 4 and 44,000 birds either died or were culled because of the virus.

It's an encouraging sign, noted Steve Olson, executive director of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association and the Chicken & Egg Association of Minnesota.

"I think there's a sense of relief as I talk to guys, but there's also a sense of apprehension because there's still a risk, and there's also that unknown piece of whether they'll have another introduction of the virus," Olson said.

Olson said he hadn't spoken recently with the Pope County grower, whose identity hasn't been released, but one factor in that producer's decision is that it's a breeding operation and the industry needs the eggs it hatches. There aren't many other turkey farms in the immediate area so it faces less risk of the virus coming back from other farms, he added. The next few growers are also relatively isolated, he said.

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