June 25, 2015 / 8:11 PM / in 4 years

U.S. May turkey slaughter drops as bird flu decimates flocks: USDA

(Reuters) - The U.S. turkey slaughter in May tumbled 12 percent from the prior month, government data on Thursday showed, as the country’s worst-ever case of bird flu decimated flocks in top producer Minnesota and surrounding states.

The 17.758 million turkeys slaughtered nationwide last month was 8 percent fewer than May 2014, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department’s monthly poultry slaughter report. It was also the lightest slaughter for the month of May since 1987, USDA data showed.

More than 7.7 million turkeys have been killed by highly pathogenic avian influenza or culled to control its spread since December, according to USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Hardest hit have been top producer Minnesota, which to date has lost more than 4.8 million birds, and No. 8 producer Iowa, where more than 1.5 million have died.

Minnesota’s May slaughter of 2.894 million young turkeys was down 31 percent from the previous month. However, the slaughter in Iowa rose 5.4 percent in May to 1.209 million birds.

Reporting by Karl Plume; Editing by Phil Berlowitz

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