570000 broiler chickens to be destroyed as bird flu hits Nebraska poultry farm – Lincoln Journal Star

Nebraska has confirmed its first case of the bird flu in a commercial flock of chickens.

The state Department of Agriculture said the highly contagious disease has been found in a flock of 570,000 broiler chickens in Butler County.

Jessica Kolterman, a spokesperson for Lincoln Premium Poultry, confirmed that the flock is on a farm that raises chickens sent for processing at the company’s Costco-affiliated operation in Fremont.

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Bird flu had previously been found in several wild geese and a mixed backyard flock in Merrick County, but its discovery in a commercial poultry operation ups the stakes in Nebraska.

The state Agriculture Department said the farm has been quarantined and all 570,000 birds will be humanely destroyed. It also has set up a 6.2-mile control zone around the farm, and producers within that radius will not be allowed to move poultry products on or off their premises without permission.

Kolterman said she believes there are other Lincoln Premium Poultry operations within that quarantine zone.

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State Veterinarian Roger Dudley said the Butler County farm had increased its safety practices and heightened observational testing amid the nationwide outbreak. It quarantined itself after noticing higher-than-normal mortality among its flock and notified the department.

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“Having a second farm in Nebraska confirmed to have HPAI is unfortunate but not completely unexpected,” said Agriculture Director Steve Wellman. “(The department) will use all the resources at our disposal, in coordination with our federal partners, to manage a quick response.”

Kolterman said Lincoln Premium Poultry, which raises chickens for the Costco processing plant in Fremont, has been operating at the highest level of biosecurity possible. She said the company will take direction from the state Agriculture Department and the U.S. Department of Agriculture on how to euthanize and dispose of the birds and how to move forward at the affected farm.

Bird flu so far has infected nearly 15 million birds in the U.S., the worst outbreak since 2015.

That outbreak seven years ago led to nearly 5 million laying hens being euthanized at six farms in Dixon County. Nationwide, more than 50 million birds were killed in what is considered the worst outbreak on record.

Reach the writer at 402-473-2647 or [email protected].

On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.

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