South Dakota poultry producers bounce back from bird flu

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Farm Forum

MITCHELL, S.D. (AP) — Some South Dakota egg producers are finally feeling some relief a year after the bird flu resulted in the deaths of millions of birds across the Midwest.

The outbreak’s effects led to soaring egg prices and hardship for egg producers and turkey farmers in the spring and summer of 2015, the Daily Republic (http://bit.ly/2eH5GiJ ) reported.

Last month, Flandreau-based egg producer Dakota Layers repopulated all nine of its flocks, which includes 1.3 million hens, according to the company’s website. Dakota Layers vice president Jason Ramsdell said the rebuilding process took a lot of time and energy.

The repopulation also benefits consumers in the form of lower egg prices because young hens produce eggs at a faster rate than aging hens.

Farmer-owned turkey plant Dakota Provisions managed to bounce back from the bird flu losses, and is planning an $8.5 million expansion of its cold storage unit. The company lost 12 percent of its total turkey population during 2015 — about 618,000 turkeys — company human resources director Mark Heuston said.

“The first year of the new facility should take us from $250 million to $300 million sales. Then higher each year after for several years,” Heuston said.