USDA-APHIS Defend the Flock. Are They Tuned in to Reality?


As more than 140 individual outbreaks of vvNewcastle Disease have been diagnosed in 'backyard flocks' (in reality a deceptively mundane characterization of fighting cocks) spread among three counties in southern California since May 2018, APHIS simply kept score. Inevitably the uncontrolled infection spread to three commercial units based on proximity and failure to implement effective biosecurity.

APHIS is promoting a Protect the Flock campaign that encompasses a few principles of operational biosecurity appropriate to subsistence farms but is otherwise pablum. The recommendations with respect to commercial farms represent a detachment from reality in their simplicity and lack of detail. Perhaps APHIS and the CADFA are operating under a politically correct mandate not to offend owners of fighting cocks. The website lists a litany of measures that are suitable for homeowners backyard hens but are inadequate to protect commercial flocks from AI and ND irrespective of pathogenicity.

It is important to consider both the risk of introducing infection and the consequences of a disease. In the case of catastrophic infection costs are immense accruing from depletion of the flock with or without indemnity, decontamination and loss of revenue and goodwill. In January 2017 the risk of vvND was low but consequences were high. In January 2018 as we now realize, the risk is considerably higher in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. Is it proportionately higher in Stanislaus County three hours by truck, north on I-5 and Route 99?

There has been far too much complacency and overt self-delusion by owners and authorities concerning investment in Structural biosecurity and hence supervision of Operational components of biosecurity for commercial laying operations. There are relatively new complexes in California housing up to two million hens and associated pullets. A capital investment of $100 million in infrastructure, housing, equipment and a packing plant justifies a commensurate expenditure on structural biosecurity. The basic capital investments should include:-

  • Fencing of the perimeter encompassing housing for flocks. Simply drawing lines on a site plan is an exercise in futility since there is no physical barrier to prevent uncontrolled entry of unauthorized persons or conversely to control the entry of authorized persons including employees shortcutting around biosecurity installations.

  • Blacktop or alternative impervious roads with drains are required within a site for service vehicles. Hardened roads allow natural decontamination by sunlight and other measures. Pathogens will persist in mud mixed with biological material and will be tracked into houses.

  • All personnel entering or leaving a designated live-bird area must shower in a purpose-built biosecurity module. Makeshift facilities including modified cargo containers may be inexpensive but they are invariably ineffective. "Personnel" includes owners, managers, supervisors, maintenance staff, house workers and crews for transfer, depletion, vaccination and beak-trim.

  • Functional and effective vehicle wash installations including a drive-through spray race and dip should be installed at the main entrance to the complex or other points of entry as required.

  • An on-site laundry facility is recommended for the biosecurity module to process Company-supplied clothing appropriate to gender and climate

It is axiomatic that effective Operational biosecurity is impossible to implement without investment in Structural facilities. Any compromise that neglects the known principles of the epidemiology of specific pathogens of concern or fails to consider the financial implications of risks and consequences is simply an exercise in "virus-roulette"

Why APHIS is pussyfooting around realities and failing to lay down minimum requirements for structural biosecurity relating to large egg-production complexes is incomprehensible. After all they have the ultimate responsibility for the control of outbreaks of exotic (actually regionally or seasonally endemic) diseases and disbursement of indemnity.


Egg Industry News

vvND Diagnosed in Utah


The State Veterinarian of Utah has disclosed that an operation with 200 fighting cocks in Utah County was subject to a presumptive diagnosis of vvNewcastle Disease and was depleted while awaiting confirmation from the NVSL in Ames IA.


It is understood that the infection was introduced into Utah by transfer of birds from a county in southern California where the infection can be regarded as endemic in fighting cocks. This situation resulted in extension to three commercial farms during December 2018 and early January 2019. Given the mobility of these birds vvND can be expected to extend from Southern California to adjoining states and even further.


The implication for egg producers is to regard every employee as having been to a cock-fight the previous night and apply strict personal biosecurity measures. These should involve de-robing, showering and donning Company-provided inner and outer clothing in a purpose-designed biosecurity module.




The following quotations for the months as indicated were posted by the CME at close of trading on Friday Jan 11th together with values for the reference months in parentheses confirming a declining market for corn, soybeans and soybean meal in comparison to the previous week.







Corn (cents per bushel)

March’19  379  (383)        

May ‘19     387     (390)

Soybeans (cents per bushel)

Jan. ’19      898  (909)   

March ’19  910    (922)      

Soybean meal ($ per ton)

Jan. ‘19    311    (316)

March ’19  314    (320)


Changes in the price of corn, soybeans and soybean meal were:-


Corn:                     March’19 quotation down 4 cents per Bu.      (-1.1 percent )

Soybeans:              Jan. ‘19 quotation down 20cents per Bu        (-2.3 percent)

Soybean Meal:        Jan. ‘19 quotation down $5 per ton               (-1.6 percent)                                 


  • For each 10 cent per bushel change in corn:-

The cost of egg production would change by 0.45 cent per dozen

The cost of broiler production would change by 0.25 cent per pound live weight


  • For each $10 per ton change in the price of soybean meal:-

The cost of egg production would change by 0.40 cent per dozen

The cost of broiler production would change by 0.25 cent per pound live weight


There is renewed optimism concerning the outcome of the dinner meeting at the G-20 Summit between the delegations from the U.S. and China led by their respective Presidents. The U.S. has agreed to a three-month delay ending March 31st before raising tariffs from ten percent to twenty-five percent on over $200 billion in annual imports from China. In return China has agreed to purchase an unspecified quantity of agricultural commodities in addition to energy and heavy equipment from the U.S. to offset the negative balance of payments. An initial order of 1.5 million tons was placed, three weeks ago, the first since June.  The USDA announced on January 7th that orders have been placed for an additional 3 million tons to be shipped before September 2019.

According to the November 8th 2018 WASDE Report #583, which did not affect commodity prices, 81.8 million acres of corn will be harvested in 2018 to produce 14.62 Billion bushels. The soybean crop is projected to attain 4.60 Billion bushels from 88.3 million acres harvested. The levels of production for the two commodities are based on revised projections of yield and acreage harvested. Ending stocks were revised based on anticipated domestic use and exports.

 See the WASDE posting summarizing the November 8th USDA-WASDE Report #583 under the STATISTICS tab documenting price projections and quantities of commodities to be produced, used and exported from the 2018 harvest. The January 2019 WASDE  Report #584 will be delayed by the Government shutdown

Unless shipments of corn and soybeans to China resume in volume as projected the financial future for row-crop farmers appears bleak despite the release of two tranches amounting to  $12 billion as “short-term” compensation. Farmers will not be placated by the promise of a year-round E-15 blend since the logistic problems of delivery to consumers and legal challenges will delay any positive price benefit. Oversupply of ethanol with the current 10 percent addition (=dilution) mandate is evident from the December 28th spot price of $1.30 per gallon again this past week compared with a 2018 peak in late March of $1.60. Exports have been constrained by the retaliatory tariffs imposed by China on U.S. ethanol. Some refiners are reducing production and mothballing corn-fermentation plants.

The loss inflicted on farmers by the trade war with China is a gain for livestock producers who will benefit from lower feed costs. It must be recognized that the hog and poultry industries have experienced higher costs for a decade as a result of the RFS, a gift that keeps on giving. The mandate is a boon to Midwest politicians, corn growers and ethanol refiners at the expense of anyone in the U.S. who eats or uses any form of transport.


USDA Weekly Egg Price and Inventory Report, January 16th 2018.


Due to the Federal shutdown effective midnight December 24th some data required for this report was not updated by USDA-AMS. Updated data will be posted when the USDA resumes operation.

  • Hen Numbers in Production increased 0.1 million to 328.2 million from January 9th.
  • Shell Inventory Down 4.9 Percent from Previous Week.
  • USDA Midwest Benchmark Generic Prices for Extra Large and Large Down by 18.3 and 18.6 Percent respectively. Mediums Down 19.8 Percent Compared to Past Week.



According to the USDA Egg Market News Reports posted on January 14 th the Midwest wholesale prices for Extra Large and Large were lower by 18.3 and 18.6 percent and Mediums were down 19.8 percent compared to the past week. The progression of prices during 2018 is depicted in the USDA chart reflecting three years of data, updated weekly.



  • December 2018 USDA Ex-Farm Benchmark Price Down 5 Percent from November, Inconsistent with Seasonal Trends Due to Oversupply.

  • USDA Average Nest-run Production Cost Fractionally Higher than November at 60.9 cents per dozen.

  • Positive USDA Benchmark Nest-run Margin Decreased 14 Percent from November to 29.0 cents per dozen



Due to the Federal shutdown some monthly reports from December 26thwere not issued. EGG-NEWS has assembled available USDA market data to produce the December report. The normal format will be posted when USDA publications resume.

Summary tables for the latest USDA December 2018 statistics and prices made available by the EIC on January 9th 2019 are arranged, summarized, tabulated and reviewed in comparison with values from the previous December 10th 2018 posting reflecting November 2018 data.


UK Free Range Egg Producers Protest Unfair Contracts


The British Free Range Egg Producers Association representing independent farmers supplying 40 packers has announced the results of a review of contract terms.

A study conducted by a firm of lawyers has demonstrated onerous conditions in contracts disfavoring producers of free-range eggs. Major items of contention include:-

  • Diverse codes of practice

  • Extended payment terms

  • Grading standards and results on which price is based, as established by packers

  • Inconsistencies in duration and rights to terminate contracts

  • One-sided provisions relating to exclusivity restricting the bargaining power of producers.

It is noted that overproduction of free-range eggs relative to demand has shaved margins for UK producers many of whom have either ceased operation or transited to barn systems.

On May 27th EGG-NEWS posted an item reporting the production of 3.9 million cases in the first quarter of 2018 compared to 3.5 million cases in the corresponding quarter of 2017. The nest-run price of free-range eggs in May in the U.K. was the equivalent of $1.18 per dozen compared to $46 cents per dozen for eggs from approved enriched colony modules. During the first quarter of 2018 U.K. producers faced competition from imported EU eggs following re-stocking of Dutch and Belgian farms after the fipronil crisis of 2017.


Robots to be Deployed by Ahold Delhaize in U.S. stores


Ahold Delhaize is deploying as many as 500 robots in Giant and Stop & Shop supermarkets following a strategic venture between the holding company and Badger Technologies. The 7-ft robot will roam stores and stop in areas with spills to prevent injury from slipping on liquids. Robots are equipped with scanners to prevent damage to shelving and displays and are guided by cameras.


FSNS Appoints Victoria Frazier as Vice President of Sales


Food Safety Net Services (FSNS) announced the promotion on Thursday 17th January of Victoria Frazier to Vice President of Sales. Frazier contributes leadership and knowledge from her many years of experience with FSNS. As Vice President of Sales, Frazier will oversee and mentor the sales team at FSNS.

Prior to her promotion, Frazier held the position of Director of Corporate Sales and Training. Frazier began her career with FSNS over seven years ago. She started as a temporary employee at the Phoenix laboratory on college graduation. Through hard work and dedication, she transitioned into a sales role, where she was able to work directly with customers across the country.

Frazier commented "Being in the food industry and helping protect the food supply has been a great career for me because it incorporates my passion for science and the fulfillment of helping people," She added "I love working at FSNS because there is a lot of opportunity for growth, whether it be through education or growing professionally as we build new labs."

Frazier received her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from the University of Arizona. While working at FSNS, Frazier participated in the tuition reimbursement program and received a Master of Science through Kansas State University and a Master of Business Administration from Louisiana State University.

Food Safety Net Services (FSNS), headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, is a national network of ISO 17025 accredited testing laboratories open 24/7, 365 days a year. FSNS provides expert technical resources that assist companies with implementing food safety and quality programs that deliver critical information needed to continually improve process controls. Additional services include GFSI, SQF and PAACO, approved auditing and certification capabilities. For more information, click the FSNS Logo on the right of the Welcome page.


Potential to Purify Plant Environments Applying Photocatalytic Technology


Extreme Microbial Technologies has introduced the Puradigm PRO™ unit for specific application to improve the air environment and to suppress pathogens in egg packing plants and hatcheries.


The unit incorporates a broad spectrum, high-efficiency, dual-wave length UV- X lamp emitting at 253 and 185 nm.  A unique honeycomb matrix is used to maximize surface exposure available to promote photocatalysis.  The efficiency of the UV-X lamp is enhanced by a hydrophobic coating that promotes the release of bactericidal reactive oxygen ions.  The ultraviolet light emitted by the Puradigm PRO™ forms plasma in the atmosphere of the environment of a plant enhancing air quality since the clouds of ions are capable of destruction of bioaerosols that include suspended bacteria and fungi.


Air quality is maintained by sensors placed in air ducts which monitor the presence of volatile organic compounds and particulate matter.  Measurements of specific fractions of particulate matter are integrated into the control of the air purification system.  Generation of cluster ions formed by the photocatalytic generator effectively reduce the viability of a wide range of potential pathogens including Bacillus, Enterococcus, Listeria, Salmonella an, Pseudomonas.


Laboratory and field evaluations have demonstrated that the units installed by Extreme Microbial Technologies will reduce bacteria and molds spores in the air and on surfaces by up to 97 percent. Extreme Microbial Technologies units can be installed in the ducts of heating and air conditioning systems or can function as free-standing units.


Initially when designing an installation to reduce airborne contamination an electronic BioAerosol monitoring system is deployed.  The instrument measures particle size and induces ultraviolet florescence in particles including bacteria to quantify the level of contamination.  Compared with conventional swabs and agar plates, the BioAerosol monitoring system provides real-time quantification of bacterial contamination and can monitor the efficiency of purification systems.


The systems approach applied by Extreme Microbial Technologies involves identifying and quantifying the types and levels of bacterial contamination. The Company then selects and installs units to reduce the levels of bacteria and fungi in the atmosphere. Regular monitoring of levels of contamination is continued to assess the efficacy of cleaning and to detect the emergence of novel pathogens introduced into the environment of a plant.


The system has been installed in a number of egg packing plants to reduce the possibility of contamination of product providing an additional level of security against the possibility of trace-back from Salmonella outbreaks.  Further information can be obtained from Extreme Microbial Technologies www.extrememicrobial.com or (844) 885-0088.


China reports on 2018 World Trade


In 2018, China reported that global exports rose by 9.9 percent and imports increased 15.8 percent for the year. These increases mask the impact of a substantial slowdown in trade and decreased domestic spending during the last quarter of the year. An indication of the decline in economic activity is demonstrated in December data. Overall, exports fell 4.4 percent from December 2017, but imports were by 7.6 percent lower, confirming both decreased domestic demand and manufacturing output.

Despite tariffs imposed by the U.S., China widened the trade surplus with our Nation by 17.2 percent to $323 billion. The increase was in part due to importers ordering ahead of anticipated increases in tariffs and will probably not carry forward. Exports to the U.S. declined 3.5 percent in December while imports by China from the U.S. were down 35 percent for December 2018. Total exports from China are estimated to be $2.18 Trillion in 2018.


New Year Resolutions Feature in AEB Promotions


During the first week of January, AEB personnel have been actively promoting eggs as part of dietary New Year resolutions. Dr. Mickey Rubin, Executive Director and Katie Hayes, Director of Nutrition Communications of the AEB Egg Nutrition Center participated in numerous radio interviews aired by stations in Boston, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Tampa and Chicago. The segments have a project total audience of 30 million listeners.


Salmonellosis Outbreaks in Michigan Small-Flock Owners Traced Back to a Hatchery


A specific small specialty hatchery in Michigan supplying chicks to owners of backyard flocks was implicated as a source of Salmonella Enteritidis and Salmonella Typhimurium.

The investigation followed a series of diagnoses involving 70 outbreaks with 4,800 cases over an 18-year period. Recently the Michigan Department of Health has investigated 24 clinical cases of SE attributed to the specific hatchery.

In a field investigation samples were obtained from incubators, the chick handling area, the environment of parent flocks and a transport vehicle. Of 45 samples collected in the hatchery nine percent yielded Salmonella Typhimurium. Application of whole genome sequencing confirmed close similarity of the isolates from patients and from chick box swabs.

Retrieve previous article on salmonellosis from backyard flocks posted on July 30th 2018 by entering "backyard" in the SEARCH block.


Congress Adjourned Without Approving Critical USDA Appointees


The 115th Congress adjourned without approving approximately 150 nominations among 700 executive positions.  Among those overlooked in the haste to conclude business in the Senate were Dr. Mindy Brashears nominated as Undersecretary of Agriculture for Food Safety and Scott Hutchins, nominee as Undersecretary of Agriculture for Research, Education and Economics.  It is noted that the previous Undersecretary of Agriculture for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen resigned from the position in 2013.


It is hoped that the 116th Congress will quickly review and approve the nominations that are critical to efficient operation of the USDA.  Both Dr. Brashears and Scott Hutchins are acknowledged experts in their respective fields with a potential to contribute to the success of specific missions of the USDA.


Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Multi-State Lawsuit against California Proposition #2


Without comment the Supreme Court denied a writ of certiorari in a case brought by Missouri and twelve other states.  The plaintiffs contended that California Proposition #2 enacted in 2008 and the equivalent Massachusetts ballot initiative (2016 Prevention of Farm Animals Cruelty Act) placing restrictions on egg-producing states to conform to California and Massachusets housing and management requirements was a constitutional issue conflicting with the interstate commerce clause. 


In November 2018, the U.S. Solicitor General stated in a brief that the plaintiff states’ claim did not fall under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. 


The multistate case was supported by Protect the Harvest that advocates for low-income consumers of animal products and also by national livestock associations.


Ziggity Systems Releases Instructional Videos


Ziggity Systems Inc. has made it easy for poultry producers to find the support they need when installing Ziggity products or replacement parts on their poultry drinker lines. The growing video series features short instructional videos including:-

• How to install Ace clip-on brackets

• How to install support pipe sections

• How to install clip-on saddles

• How to install floor Big Ace/Big Z clip-on brackets

• How to assemble T-Max drinkers

• How to install pipe connectors

• How to install the Ziggity Slope Neutralizer

• How to install and remove drinkers and avoid drinker damage


These installation videos can be found on the Ziggity website at https://ziggity.com/installation-videos/ or by clicking on to the Ziggity logo on the right side of the Welcome page.


For more information, contact Ziggity Systems, Inc. at 101 Industrial Parkway East, Middlebury, IN. or access <www.ziggity.com>


Rose Acre Farms Donates to Community Home


As an annual event, employees of Rose Acre Farms raise funds to be donated to the Lutheran Community Home in Seymour, IN and to the Double Down Outreach nonprofit which donates food and supplies to those in need during winter.



California Ban on Foie Gras Impacts Producers in France


Failure by the Supreme Court to hear a challenge to the 2012 California statute banning production and sale of foie gras has not only ended the unpleasant and cruel practice in the state but has eliminated a market for farmers in France. The practice of “gavage feeding” an euphemism for forcing feed in semi-liquid form through a metal tube into the distended proventriculus of restrained geese, has been banned in Denmark, the U.K., Germany, Finland, Argentina and Australia among other nations.


Even in France, that counts foie gras as part of their gastronomic heritage, renowned chefs have spurned the product, as have some supermarket chains. France produces seventy percent of the World’s production and is slowly building back the market lost in Japan, the major customer, after embargos as a result of AI in 2016 and 2017.


Continuation of the inhumane practice of gavage feeding to produce what is essentially a pathological fat infiltration of the liver would be detrimental to the overall image of poultry production. To claim that this sub-section of the industry is producing a “product conforming to hygiene regulations” ignores the overwhelming welfare consideration of force-feeding to produce an unhealthy product.


It is axiomatic that trends and laws emerging in California ultimately spread eastward. It is predicted that state laws will soon be enacted by legislators and by ballot on the East coast. Elimination of Foie Gras production, a medieval practice, would benefit both the health of geese and consumers. Producers in France should consider another line of work and not rely on Japan. On second thought is their main customer now the only remaining nation that slaughters whales and dolphins for food?


Sponsored Announcements

eggyplay® movie!


Have you seen our eggyplay® movie?

As you may know, our eggyplay® boxes are completely unique: an egg-box and a toy in one!
Made from dishwasher-proof polypropylene, the boxes can be used as building blocks.

We would like to invite you to watch our movie and find out why children have so much fun with eggyplay®.


more info? http://gi-ovo.com - sales@gi-ovo.com





Visit our Companion Website

Dr. Simon M. Shane
Simon M. Shane
Contact     C. V.