Avian influenza decimates Ritewood eggs farm in Cache Valley, Zootah under quarantine
A sign at the door informs visitors that Zootah is under quarantine on Friday, April 29, 2022 after a case of bird flu was detected at the Logan zoo. Photo by Will Feelright.
LEWISTON — Ritewood Inc. in Lewiston was decimated by Avian Influenza on Friday, April 22, 2022. The virus has caused one of Utah’s largest egg producers to depopulate more than 1.4 million laying hens.
There is no way to estimate the total value of the loss at this time.
The facility will have to be decontaminated after the birds are gone, it will take an estimated two years to get the operation up to where it was before this happened.
Ritewood Inc. and sister egg operation Oakdell Egg Farms in Franklin use the strictest biosecurity measures available.
Zootah. Photo by Will Feelright
Right now, during the migration of ducks and geese into Cache Valley it is difficult to keep it away from poultry farms along the waterways.
The egg company has been working on outdoor facilities for their chickens as mandated by the Utah State Legislature to raise chickens in a cageless environment.
Another case of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) was confirmed in Cache County on Thursday at the Zootah facility in Logan by Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) officials.
“The owners of Zootah notified our office of the infected bird immediately,” said Utah State Veterinarian, Dr. Dean Taylor. “They have worked closely with our office on their response plan and implementing proper quarantine measures at their zoo.”
Zootah is under a state ordered quarantine and is closed currently.
Because the affected birds are considered captive wildlife and not poultry, some of which are endangered species, UDAF officials are working with the zoo owners to avoid depopulation of these birds.
Zootah at Willow Park in Logan. Photo by Will Feelright.
Bird owners in Cache Valley are encouraged to continue to be vigilant in checking their birds for symptoms and ensuring they are following good biosecurity practices. Symptoms include high death loss among flocks, nasal discharge, decreased appetite or water consumption, and lack of coordination in birds. If birds are experiencing any of these symptoms, please contact the state veterinarian’s office immediately at [email protected] Early reporting and action will help to contain the disease.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the recent HPAI detections do not present an immediate public health concern. One case of this strain of HPAI has been detected in Colorado. As a reminder, the proper handling and cooking of all poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165˚F is recommended as a general food safety precaution.