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Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch to Lay Off 400 Employees Amidst Bird Flu Outbreak

Herbuck’s Poultry Ranch: The farm has been dealt a big blow with Michigan’s largest egg producer, Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch announcing plans to lay off an estimated 400 workers at five Ionia County farms. The decision came after an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) also known as bird flu paralyzed the company’s operations.

Bird Flu Outbreak and Its Consequences

This was last month when there were reports of bird flu at Herbruck’s poultry ranch near Saranac necessitating significant measures to stop the spread of the virus. They shut down any movement of birds in and out of the affected sites. Unfortunately, even with all these efforts put in place, many hens have died leaving a drastic decrease in egg production.

Layoffs and Temporary Nature

It is understood that these layoffs which would involve both hourly-wage employees as well as those on salary and contractors would only be temporary. Re-employing most of these workers is what the company plans to do since they are repopulating their facilities for reimbursement purposes and to get back into safe egg production soonest possible according to CEO Greg Herbruck. Mr. Herbruck admitted that this is a stressful time for his company’s team members; nevertheless, he assured them that they are liaising with state partners who will provide resources and support during this time.

Community Impact and Public Health Risk

Concerns were raised among residents living around the facility who reported about bad smell within it together with movements by people wearing protective clothes including hazmat suits. The stench, according to Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), might have resulted from composting infected birds which is necessary for containing an outbreak like this one. As severe as it may be though MDARD maintains that public health risk from this outbreak remains low taking into account that no birds or products thereof will be allowed in the commercial food chain.

Bird Flu in the USA: Current Status

The bird flu outbreak at Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch is part of a broader trend of avian influenza detections in poultry flocks across the United States. Those in Newaygo and Ionia counties have been detected by MDARD, which indicates that farmers, regulators and members of the public must remain vigilant and coordinate efforts to prevent its dissemination.


Laying off 400 employees from Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch highlights how greatly agriculture communities suffer economic consequences as well as social impact consequent upon animal disease outbreaks. In order for stakeholders to support affected employees throughout this period of HPAI recovery, it is important for them to identify ways through which they can ensure agricultural industry’s viability.

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