Texas poultry facility to destroy 1.6 million hens after positive bird flu test


AUSTIN (KXAN) — A West Texas poultry facility “received official notice” of a positive test for highly pathogenic avian influenza, also known as bird flu, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller confirmed in a release Tuesday.

The Cal-Maine Foods, Inc. poultry facility in Farwell will need to destroy 1.6 million laying hens and 337,000 pullets at that facility, which is approximately 3.6% of the company’s total flock, due to U.S. Department of Agriculture poultry infections guidance. Pullets are young female chicks.

Farwell is on the Texas-New Mexico border, southwest of Amarillo and northwest of Lubbock. Production has “temporarily ceased” at the poultry plant, the release said.

On Monday, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) reported a human case of avian influenza. The person’s only reported symptom was eye inflammation. They’re being treated with an antiviral drug, the DSHS release said.

DSHS did not specify where the person lives or where they contracted the virus.

Miller’s release said the USDA confirmed five new avian influenza cases at dairy facilities on Monday. Cases have been found in dairy herds in Texas (7), Kansas (2), Michigan (1), and New Mexico (1) with a presumptive positive test result pending in Idaho.

“The current risk to the public remains minimal,” Miller said in the release. “It is important for us as an industry to maintain a high level of vigilance. State and national agencies will continue to provide updated guidance as developments warrant.”