2020-10-02: Avian Science Notes October Newsletter

University of California - Cooperative Extension                                               

October 2020                                 

NOTE:  The NEW CONTEST deadline has been extended until Thursday, October 22.


The Avian Science Notes Newsletter (current and back issues) written by Dr. Francine Bradley,

Extension Poultry Specialist Emerita from UC Davis, is always available at: https://avian.ucdavis.edu/

2020-10_AVS_notes_online.pdf   (Here is the full pdf version, including photos.)




            California’s State Veterinarian receives national recognition

             Eggs and Poultry Meat as Food

             Photo Contest Winners (1ST place)

             Eating during the pandemic

             Photo Contest Winners, continued (2nd place)

             Where’s the meat?  Poultry Meat of course

             Photo Contest Winners, continued (3rd place)

             Quick Serve Restaurants (QSR), eggs, poultry meat, and the pandemic

              Resource Materials

              Meeting Ideas

              Gratitude to Volunteers, Fair Staff, and PHIs who helped shelter evacuated poultry

              New Contest



California’s State Veterinarian receives national recognition

This summer, Dr. Annette Jones, the California State Veterinarian, received the James A. Graham Award at the virtual annual meeting of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.   Her award recognized the tremendous efforts she made to eradicate virulent Newcastle Disease (vND) and her leadership in managing other animal diseases from 2018-20.  Dr. Jones is a great friend to poultry producers, large and small, and we add our congratulations.

Dr. Annette Jones
                    Dr. Annette Jones

Eggs and Poultry Meat as Food

This issue is on Food, specifically the use of eggs and poultry meat in human diets.   Highlighted will be how the pandemic and lock down have impacted the use of these items. 

Photo Contest Winners

Thanks to all who entered the Photo Contest for this Food issue (as advertised in the August Newsletter).   It was interesting to see the entries as they came in, poultry 4-Hers have been using eggs in a myriad of ways during the pandemic.  Pictured in this issue are the top 3 entries. 

Congratulations to First Place Winner, Sammy Belik.  Sammy is a member of Ventura Co. 4-H and writes that he and his Mother prepared the dish.

Eating during the pandemic

Certainly, what, where, and when we eat has also changed for many.  Figures from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) can help us identify some of the changes and patterns.  Between February and March of this year, there was a 20% drop in the money ($67.6 to $54 billion) Americans spent on buying food away from home (FAFH).   While some states were already locking down in March, even more states locked down in April and it was then that FAFH dropped 34% from the prior month.   The March spending of $35.7 billion was less than what Americans spent during December 2019.

While the FAFH numbers are dramatic, they only tell part of the story.  The U.S. Grocer Shopper Trends study documents the changes at the shopper-grocery store level.   Considering March and April again, the weekly household grocery bill climbed from $120 to $161.

As the pandemic closed offices, schools, hotels, and restaurants, what foods were in high demand at the grocery store?   Eggs seemed to be in all shopping carts and in many news stories.   The urge for eggs far outpaced the egg supply.   Grocery stores scrambled to find more eggs.   The Wall Street Journal reported that in the first week of April, grocers were paying $3.01/doz wholesale, versus $0.94/doz at the start of March (all prices from USDA statistics).

Photo Contest Winners, continued

2nd Place was awarded to Loralei Paukert of Napa County.   Loralei prepared classic deviled eggs and displayed them on a hand-painted dish.   Loralei’s entry deserves special mention, as her Father, Dr. Martin Paukert, is a former National Avian Bowl Champion.   Loralei painted the deviled egg dish for her Grandmother, long-time 4-H Poultry Leader, Mrs. Sherry Paukert.

Where’s the meat?  Poultry Meat of course

Chicken production has not changed significantly since 2019.   The price increase, and sometimes meat case shortages, of beef and pork have been due largely to shutdowns at meat packing plants.

And what about turkey meat?  Typically, the United States has an inventory of 200-500 million pounds of frozen turkey.  USDA data indicate that of this August the inventory of frozen whole body turkeys is down 7.33% from August 2019.

Quick Serve Restaurants (QSR), eggs, poultry meat, and the pandemic

As discussed above, during the pandemic we all seem to be eating at home more often than not.   QSR companies have felt this and most significantly in their breakfast sales.  Since more people are working, studying, and just staying home than ever before, they also are taking the time to cook breakfast at home.  According to the market research company, NPD, morning meals sales fell by 18% this June from the year before.

One major QSR chain is banking that as the business and educational worlds reboot, customers will once again want to purchase breakfast on-the-go.   Wendy’s is launching a $15 million marketing campaign.   The breakfast items they will be promoting include breakfast sandwiches with fried chicken, bacon, eggs, and sausage.

Another QSR, Taco Bell, has announced that new chicken products will be the focus of their “menu evolution.”  In August they began sales of “Crispy chicken wings” at southern California locations.  In development is a chicken strip that will have a panko and tortilla chip marinated in buttermilk jalapeno ranch sauce coating and served in a flour tortilla.

Photo Contest Winners, cont.

3rd place winner was Olivia Willoughby from Santa Rosa Valley 4-H.   Olivia’s entry featured the most novel use of eggs: scrambled eggs, beef smoked sausage, cheese, salsa, and cilantro in flour tortillas.

Resource Materials

     Ag in the Classroom (AITC) offers excellent programs and materials developed by the Ag in the Classroom  Foundation.   AITC has curriculum specialists on its staff and works closely with farmers and ranchers throughout the state, as well as teachers.   Check out their website and especially the Fact Sheets.   Yes, the majority deal with fruits and vegetable, but you will find information on poultry and eggs, as well.   Visit:  https://learnaboutag.org

Meeting Ideas

       The articles in this issue, as well as a host of articles in print newspapers and magazines, as well as on reputable on-line websites, document changes in the eating habits of American over the last 6 months.   In advance of your next Club meeting (in person or virtual), you could have members keep a diary of what they ate on a Monday and on a Saturday or Sunday.  Ask them to record the main Protein at each meal, where they ate the meal and who prepared it.  At the actual meeting, each member can give a quick report.  After each has reported, ask how they feel their current food diary differs from a year ago.   Things to look for: were they eating eggs at home for weekday breakfasts a year ago?  Have their weekend breakfasts or brunches become more elaborate?   Are they using more eggs in general, now than a year ago.  As the principal meal preparer changed?

      As egg prices went up dramatically last March and April, many consumers asked, “Why don’t the egg producers just produce more eggs?”   Ask your members to answer that question.   Hints: how long does it take to get more pullets raised and ready to lay eggs?  Even if replacement pullets (ready to lay females) were immediately available to buy, what could be another problem?  Hint: everybody and every chicken has to live somewhere...do ranchers have the ready cash to build new layer houses?  Even if a producer had the money and could find replacement pullets to buy, what might be a reason not to?   Hint: how long will the pandemic, shut down, and increased demand last?

      In addition to more people cooking breakfast at home, ask members other reasons for the increase in demand for eggs.  Hints: increased prices for other proteins, people taking up or having the time for home baking, etc.

      After a few months this spring, we did see retail egg prices come down.   If few producers could get more layers into production in that time, how could egg prices have declined?  Hint: have members use the Avian Bowl Manual, specifically the Changing World of Poultry and Egg Markets.   Talk about “supply and demand.”   If the demand for eggs was increasing at the grocery store, was it decreasing in other areas?   Hint: read them the article in this issue about QSRs and breakfast sales.   Eventually, egg producers were able to retool their packaging and distribution lines, in order to shift package size from that for food service (restaurants, school cafeterias) to the dozen egg cartons most consumers buy.

       Since you may be using this newsletter for meeting ideas during the run-up to Thanksgiving, “talk turkey” with your members.   Read them the section in this issue about the decline in inventory of frozen turkey meat.   Then challenge them to explain why significantly higher retail turkey prices are NOT expected this holiday season.   If they cannot readily come up with an explanation, ask them if all the turkey produced in America is typically eaten only by Americans.  Have them use USDA and poultry industry websites to find out the biggest importer of American turkey meat (hint: think “south of the border”).   When they come up with the name of the country, then have them find out if that country has drastically reduced its turkey imports this year.   The answer is “yes.”  Next you can ask them to speculate how this happened (hint: pandemic has severely hit this country and with poor economy, their consumers are spending less on meat).   By this point your members should be able to tie the information together and explain that a lower demand for imported turkey meat allows for greater supplies for American consumers.

Gratitude to Volunteers, Fair Staff, and PHIs who helped shelter evacuated poultry

As news breaks of more and more fires across California, we also hear of citizens racing to save their animals.   With homes and barns lost, many of those impacted by the fires have been left without any housing.   Once again our great county and district fair staff members have responded and opened up their fair barns and corrals.   The first call I received was from a volunteer at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds in Watsonville.   This big hearted individual had not only taken on the responsibility of caring for the evacuated poultry that were being dropped off, she wanted to make sure that she was providing the correct housing.   After a few questions, I could tell that this volunteer was on top of her task.

     With fires moving in from numerous directions, the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa became the county’s largest center for evacuated animals.  The Watsonville and Santa Rosa stories have been repeated throughout the state.   Fair administrators, volunteers, and our own Poultry Health Inspectors (PHIs) have all played a part in making sure that evacuated poultry were sheltered and cared for properly.

Sammy Belik
Brie and Bacon Quiche, but Sammy Belik



How I will prepare my poultry house for winter

The December AVS Notes will feature Winter Management of your Flock.  You are invited to send a short, 4 or 5 sentence, description of one management task that you always do to make your poultry house winter weather ready.   A photo of you performing this task is also welcome, but NOT required.   Entries to:

     David Emery <david.emery@alumni.ucdavis.edu>         Deadline: Oct. 15, 2020

     The best entries will be selected and included in the next issue.  Winners will be able to list “article contributed to a  UC Newsletter,” in their Record Books, college applications, etc.




Oct. 22 (revised Oct 14) – Deadline for “How I will prepare my poultry house for winter” contest  entries

Questions: Dr. Bradley 760 699-5078



Dr. Francine A. Bradley, Editor

Extension Poultry Specialist

1775 East Palm Canyon Dr.

Suite 110 - #129

Palm Springs, California 92264