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AFIA Responds to Accusations of Chicken Litter Spreading HPAI on Dairy Farms

May 1, 2024

Contact Victoria Broehm

Key Points: 

  • The feed industry challenges media reports alleging that the HPAI virus has spread to dairy cattle due to the consumption of chicken litter on farms. 

  • The USDA and FDA have not found a link to HPAI virus transmission in dairy cattle through chicken litter, believing wild migratory birds as the likely cause, and FDA stated that chicken litter does not pose an animal or public health threat warranting usage restrictions. 

  • While dried poultry litter and waste are safe, approved feed ingredients, they are not widely used in dairy diets. 

Following several media reports alleging that the use of chicken litter in dairy cattle diets has caused the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus to spread on dairy farms, the American Feed Industry Association’s (AFIA) President and CEO Constance Cullman issued the following statement:

“We are concerned with recent sensational headlines and articles falsely accusing feeding practices of spreading the HPAI virus on dairy farms without fully disclosing the facts. As an association representing the total feed industry, we would like to set the record straight.

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has confirmed that based on what they know today, ‘wild migratory birds are believed to be the original source of the virus’ in dairy cattle, and their staff are further investigating cases where the virus has spread between herds through cattle movements or into nearby poultry premises. On a call last week, USDA’s chief veterinary officer and deputy administrator for veterinary services confirmed to stakeholders that nothing leaves the infected premises of an HPAI-impacted poultry farm, including poultry litter or waste to be used for crop fertilizer or feed. The Food and Drug Administration has also gone on record stating that it is ‘not aware of any data showing that the use of poultry litter in cattle feed is posing human or animal health risks that warrant restrictions on its use.

“While not widely used, the Association of American Feed Control Officials approved the use of dried poultry litter and waste, which are not good hosts for viruses, as a partial source of protein for beef and dairy cattle. Recent research shows that it is not a common byproduct used in dairy diets.

“The animal food industry is committed to supporting the nation’s poultry and dairy farmers throughout this animal health crisis and is enhancing feed mill biosecurity programs to help curb the HPAI virus’s spread. Let’s not vilify the hardworking farmers with false allegations while they are dealing with the emotional toll of caring for sick animals and working their hardest to ensure a safe food supply for Americans.”