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Dakota Provisions Weathering Bird Flu; Hutterite Turkey Growers Can’t Go Visiting

A fifth South Dakota turkey farm, this one in Roberts County, has reported bird flu. As we approach losing 6% of the 4.5 million turkeys on South Dakota farms, state veterinarian Dustin Oedekoven and Huron turkey producer Dakota Provisions CEO Jeff Sveen continue to insist nobody’s going to go out of business:

Once response teams have “depopulated” the Roberts County farm, approximately 256,000 turkeys in South Dakota will have died as a result of the disease. While that’s a considerable chunk of the approximately 4.5 million turkeys the state’s Hutterite growers produce annually and a severe loss to individual producers, Oedekoven said it shouldn’t threaten the overall health of the state’s industry.

“So, it’s not good, but it’s not going to put anybody out of business,” said Jeff Sveen, board chairman for Dakota Provisions, a farmer-owned plant that processes the birds raised by the state’s 42 turkey farms [Kevin Burbach, “USDA Confirms Bird Flu at 5th South Dakota Turkey Farm,” AP via ABCNews, 2015.04.17].

This bird flu doesn’t kill people, but it is restricting Hutterites from moving around:

By mid-April, growers in four South Dakota counties were hit with the virus. Three of those growers supply birds to the Dakota Provisions turkey processing plant east of Huron, where 20,000 birds are processed each day. The plant is owned by the growers, most of them members of Hutterite colonies.

In all, six farms that supply the plant, including one in North Dakota, have been infected with the virus. So far, it hasn’t slowed production and Dakota Provisions hasn’t had to lay off any workers, said Jeff Sveen, who is chairman of the board at Dakota Provisions.

…The growers that own Dakota Provisions have increased their biosecurity measures. Sveen said those that raise birds aren’t being allowed to travel from one Hutterite Colony to another.

“We have always had real good biosecurity,” he said. “We’re looking at all kinds of approaches to help prevent this” [Janelle Atyeo, “Turkey Growers Look for End of Influenza,” Tri-State Neighbor, 2015.04.15].

The departure of migrating waterfowl and the coming of warmer days (80-degrees-plus) is supposed to end the bird flu breakout. Until then, a lot of South Dakota’s Hutterite turkey growers will have to chat by e-mail. mapping of avian influzenza outbreaks in last month. Screen capped 2015.04.18. mapping of avian influzenza outbreaks in last month. Screen capped 2015.04.18.


  1. Daniel Buresh 2015-04-18 11:06

    On the plus side, it’s good money for local volunteer fire depts tasked with dispatching them.

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