March 28, 2022
We want to update our stakeholders on Avian Influenza, a virus that affects chickens and has been recently reported in the UK and U.S. For background, avian influenza occurs when migratory waterfowl pass over farm areas and leave droppings containing the virus. First and foremost, we’re thinking of any farmers and animals that have been affected by this virus.
Our Farm Support crew has been following this virus since cases were first reported in Europe several months ago. We’ve been working with our farmers, veterinary partners, and government health officials to protect the health of our girls. We also sought guidance from our animal welfare auditors including Certified Humane® and Oregon Tilth to ensure any approach we take has their approval as it relates to animal welfare standards.
At this time, our veterinary partners, certifying bodies, and state health officials have strongly recommended that we keep our hens indoors, and we are following this guidance. We’ve also implemented heightened biosecurity measures across our network of 275 farms. Because avian influenza is spread by wild migratory fowl, hens with outdoor access could be particularly vulnerable. We shared this decision with our auditors who agree with this approach. While the hens are inside the barn, our farmers continue to prioritize animal welfare which includes carefully managing barn ventilation and providing high-quality foraging materials and enrichments.
While we hope the girls will be out on pasture again soon, we believe this is the best approach to keep them as safe as possible.