SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — More than a one million turkeys have euthanized because of avian flu in South Dakota, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The state has lost about 420,000 turkeys since April 1, according to the USDA. Those are commercial flocks or commercial breeder flocks at nine sites in eight different counties.
The birds are euthanized to stop the spread of avian flu.
The 420,000 euthanized since April 1 adds to roughly 800,000 turkeys already euthanized because of avian flu since March 5.
At one million birds, South Dakota has had about one-third of all the turkeys lost to avian flu. Beth Breeding of the National Turkey Federation (NTF) said as of April 7, “a little over three million birds” had been lost to avian flu.
Some states have been more affected than others, she said.
“It certainly would be a devastating outcome for any farm experiencing this,” Breeding said.
The spread could continue in South Dakota and other states as the migration of waterfowl continues. Waterfowl are spreading much of avian flu.
“If a farm hasn’t had it, you are just kind of waiting for it to happen,” Breeding said. The nation is still in the heart of wild bird migration, she said.
“It’s an issue we’re tracking,” Breeding said.
It’s too soon to determine if the 2022 impact will be as large as in 2015, Breeding said.
The roughly three million birds already lost represents about 1.5% of the total population, she said.
“In 2015, around 3.4% of our annual production was impacted,” Breeding said.
The USDA reported that four million turkeys were expected to be produced in South Dakota in 2021. According to the South Dakota Poultry Industries Association, there are an average of five million turkeys raised each year.
It is estimated that most, if not all, turkeys raised for commercial sales raised in South Dakota are raised in Hutterite Colony facilities.
Although avian flu is serious threat to poultry, Breeding said, it is not a public health threat and poultry products are safe to consume.