First a virus came for our pork, infecting pigs with a deadly diarrhea and increasing supermarket prices for the meat nationwide. Now, another staple of the American carnivore is facing a biological threat of its own.
There’s a problem with chicken fertility.
Reuters reports that the Aviagen Group, the world’s largest chicken breeder, “has discovered that a key breed of rooster has a genetic issue that is reducing its fertility.” The report does not indicate the nature of the genetic problem. Rather, Aviagen “has acknowledged that an undisclosed change it made to the breed’s genetics made the birds ‘very sensitive’ to being overfed,” which presumably, in turn, decreases fertility.
Previously about 15 percent of eggs from Aviagen hens would fail to hatch chicks; now, that figure is 17 percent. That increase will translate to significant impacts on the market, as Aviagen sires as many as 25 percent of the nation’s chickens. In 2010, U.S. poultry farms produced 36.9 billion pounds of chicken, which is roughly on the same scale as the mass of concrete in China’s terrifyingly enormous Three Gorges Dam, and more massive than the great pyramid at Giza.
This comes at an inopportune time for the U.S. poultry industry. Due to recent hikes in the price of beef and pork, demand for chicken is expected to rise. Chicken companies would typically respond to such demands by increasing the number of chickens in the market, Reuters reports. With decreased fertility, that may not happen. Producers are scrambling to catch up.
“At this point the broiler industry has yet to make any consistent strong increases in production,” the Agriculture Department’s June poultry production report reads. “Although with good domestic prices, lower feed costs, and forecasts for price strength in the beef and pork industries, the broiler industry would normally be moving into an expansion mode.” Slow growth in chicken production led the USDA to decrease this year’s chicken outlook by 195 million pounds, which is equal to about the average yearly chicken consumption of 2.3 million Americans.
What We're Following See More »
"The Trump administration is ending a humanitarian program that has allowed some 59,000 Haitians to live and work in the United States since an earthquake ravaged their country in 2010, Homeland Security officials said on Monday. Haitians with what is known as Temporary Protected Status will be expected to leave the United States by July 2019 or face deportation. ... About 320,000 people now benefit from the Temporary Protected Status program, which was signed into law by President George Bush in 1990."
"A federal judge on Monday permanently blocked President Donald Trump's executive order to cut funding from cities that limit cooperation with U.S. immigration authorities. U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick rejected the administration's argument that the executive order applies only to a relatively small pot of money and said Trump cannot set new conditions on spending approved by Congress. The judge had previously made the same arguments in a ruling that put a temporary hold on the executive order."