Industrial turkey hen production in Sainte-Marguerite-de-l'Autel (northern France). (Photo by: Tesson/Andia/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Bird Flu Is Forcing Chicken And Egg Prices In Opposite Directions
By Elias Nash
H5N1, a strain of avian influenza a.k.a. bird flu, has swept the entire globe, and its highly contagious nature has left few species untouched. Thanksgiving turkey and egg prices are skyrocketing, but the cost of chicken meat has actually dropped for this surprising reason.
Avian flu kills almost 100% of chickens it infects, and if any bird on a farm comes down with the disease, federal rules force the farmer to kill their entire flock to prevent its spread. As a result, CNBC reports that roughly 37 million egg-laying hens have died in 2022, forcing commercial egg prices to jump a whopping 10% in October.
However, the chickens we eat, known as broiler chickens, have been spared this fate as the cost of chicken meat dropped 1.3% in October. This is because broiler chickens have extremely short lives while egg-laying hens take six months just to reach maturity, and because farmers must keep them alive longer, they are more likely to catch H5N1.