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1,000,000 Egg-Laying Hens Set to Be Euthanised to Combat Bird Flu Outbreak

The minister assures Australians that there is no need to worry about potential egg shortages.

Agriculture Minister Murray Watt has confirmed that the government is managing the bird flu situation effectively.

While Coles has implemented a temporary restriction of two egg cartons per customer, the minister emphasized that a national shortage is not anticipated.

The highly pathogenic Avian influenza strain, H7N3, has been found at five poultry farms in Victoria.

Despite this, Agriculture Victoria has ensured that eggs and poultry products in supermarkets are safe for consumption and pose no risk.

Minister Watt mentioned that customers can explore other retailers if they need to purchase more eggs, as not all have imposed limits.

“I know there was some concern yesterday due to Coles’ decision to limit egg sales to two cartons per customer preemptively,” he stated in an interview with ABC TV on June 11.

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“I personally have never bought more than one dozen eggs at once, but I understand that some people may need larger quantities, and they are readily available,” he mentioned.

“The current situation involves five poultry and egg farms in Victoria that have been impacted by a specific strain of avian flu.”

One Million Hens Being Culled

Minister Watt highlighted that out of the 21 million egg-laying hens in Australia, approximately 1 million are being euthanized or are in the process of being euthanized, accounting for about 4% of the total flock.

“We are taking swift and careful action, and the public can be confident that we have the situation under control,” he assured.

Additionally, Mr. Watt pointed out that Australia produces more than 18 million eggs daily, reducing the likelihood of a shortage.

He commended the efforts of the Victorian government in proactively limiting the spread of bird flu.

“This is why we have not seen a higher number of affected properties than we currently have,” he added.

“Certainly, the Victorian government and we believe that this can be eradicated with early and focused efforts, which is exactly what is happening. Unfortunately, the affected hens have to be euthanized to prevent further spread of the virus.”

Coles’ Actions

A Coles representative mentioned in an email provided to The Epoch Times that, “We have imposed a temporary restriction of two egg cartons per customer in our stores nationwide, except in-store Western Australia.”

“We are collaborating closely with our suppliers to ensure egg availability for our customers and supporting the industry in responding to the Avian Flu cases in Victoria.”

On June 7, Agriculture Victoria confirmed that a fifth Victorian poultry farm was put under “quarantine” after bird flu was confirmed.

Tests identified the highly pathogenic H7N3 strain at this property in the Golden Plains Shire of Victoria, where “movement restrictions” were already in place.

Victoria’s Chief Veterinary Officer Graeme Cooke stated that Agriculture Victoria is working with affected producers and the broader industry to maintain business operations while minimizing disease transmission risk.

“It’s a challenging time for our farmers, and we are ensuring mental health support and compensation are accessible to eligible producers,” he mentioned.
A fourth case of the highly pathogenic bird flu H7N3 strain was reported on June 5, also in the Golden Plains Shire.

H7N3 has been detected at two other farms, in addition to another strain, H7N9, identified in May.

A human case of avian influenza H5N1 was also found in Victoria on May 22, marking the first Australian case, involving a child who had recently returned from India.

Chief Health Officer Dr. Clare Looker mentioned at the time that the health department would provide support to Agriculture Victoria in managing the outbreak.

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