Bird Flu Hits Texas, Kansas Milk in First Sign of Impact

By | June 21, 2024

US milk production is starting to get hit by the bird flu virus, which first made the jump to cows earlier this year.

Output in Texas and Kansas — the first states where highly pathogenic avian influenza was detected in dairy cattle — slumped in March and April, according to US Department of Agriculture data.

Usually, output in those states would rise at that time of year amid a seasonal spring boost, according to economist Betty Berning.

“It’s atypical,” Berning said this week at the Global Dairy Outlook Conference in Chicago.

“It’s a safe bet that this is probably what’s going on,” she said of the flu outbreak.

Texas’ milk production fell 4.9% in March, much bigger than than overall national decline of 0.5%. The USDA announced the first-ever outbreak of bird flu in Texas milking dairy cattle on March 25.

While the virus is still spreading, the outbreak’s overall impact on milk production is expected to be somewhat limited. Unlike birds, in which flocks are wiped out in order to stop the virus’ spread, many dairy cows can recover from a bout of the illness.

Milk futures are up about 27% since the first outbreak in dairy cattle was announced, with prices for the variety used to make cheese also buoyed by tight global supplies.

Read More: What to Know About Bird Flu and Fears of a Pandemic: QuickTake

(Adds milk futures eight paragraph.)

Photo: Dairy cows stand in the milking parlor at Stone-Front Farm in Lancaster, Wisconsin, U.S., on Thursday, April 23, 2020. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Topics Texas Kansas

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