Local egg farm back to full operation with its layers
Dakota Layers barns northeast of Flandreau are back to full operation and bird population about a year after the company was hit with a second round of the highly pathogenic avian influenza. More than 1.2 million birds were culled in December of 2022. The first time the company was affected by the bird flu was in 2015.
Dakota Layers, for the first time since December of 2022, is back to being fully operational in regard to its birds.
The locally and family-owned egg farm has twice been devastated by HPAI, or the bird flu. May of 2015 was the farm’s first devastating round with the virus. Extraordinary precautions didn’t stop a second round from hitting its flock in late 2022.
More than 1.2 million hens were again quickly euthanized.
The rebuilding process and the efforts to protect its flock from ongoing and annual emerging threats has been a challenge and costly.
“We are, once again, preparing for spring migration,” said Tracy Ramsdell, spokesperson for the company.
“In the poultry industry, just when we think we’re in the clear, another season is just around the corner. We’re constantly preparing for what’s next! Considering AI cases were still popping up in SD, KS, CA in January, we are still under high alert.”
Dakota Layers General Manager Jason Ramsdell told the Moody County Enterprise late last year that he’s learning alongside hundreds of other leaders in the egg industry what they can about this latest strain and how to improve safety measures.
One area he said that can’t be stressed enough is more knowledge amongst the general public and backyard flock owners about the bird flu — the virus each year mutates and travels globally in migratory birds.
The best thing anyone can do if they find a sick or dead bird is to call the state DENR to notify them of their location, and not to touch or move them. The worst thing anyone might do, he added, is try and nurse these birds back to health or move them around.
HPAI has infected commercial poultry, totaling more than 59 million in 47 states since 2022. Dakota Layers is one of countless commercial farms that has, more than once, suffered tremendous losses.
If you suspect birds you care for have avian influenza, you should contact state officials immediately at 605-223-7660 or email WildInfo@state.sd.us.