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Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch to lay off 400 workers

Egg producer notifies Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity of layoffs related to avian influenza infections.

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Eggs Birko
Courtesy Birko

Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch notified the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity that it would be laying off about 400 people across five facilities in the state as a result of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) infections.

In a letter to the agency, Herbruck’s Chief Human Resources Officer Stephanie Kempa wrote: “As you are likely aware, the company’s hen population in some of its Ionia County farms have been unexpectedly impacted by avian influenza, which is highly contagious to hens and deadly to them.”

The letter stated that three facilities with Saranac addresses and two with Lake Odessa addresses are undergoing layoffs, effective May 15.

“This massive layoff is expected to be largely temporary, with some permanent, and will affect many hourly and salaried employees as well as contactors,” Kempa wrote. “The company plans to rehire as many positions as hen replenishing and egg production increases.”

According to the letter, staff members with the following job duties are among those to be laid off: accounting, coordinator, clerk, feed mill, fertilizer, human resources, maintenance, manager, marketing, processing, production, Q/A technician, sanitation, supervisor and warehouse.

All affected employees were notified of their layoff dates, and that the layoffs in many cases will be temporary.

In a statement issued to WZZM13, Herbruck's said: "In the face of ongoing efforts to address the detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza alongside state and federal regulators, Herbruck's has reached the difficult decision to conduct layoffs at the affected facilities where work is not available. We expect this to largely be temporary, as we plan to rehire many positions as we work to repopulate our facilities and continue egg production as safely and quickly possible. We understand this is a stressful situation for our team members, and we are working with our state partners to provide them with resources, answer questions and assist in their individual family situations."

According to information from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), three commercial table egg laying flocks in Ionia County were affected by HPAI in April 2024, although APHIS did not disclose with which company those flocks were affiliated.

The three flock infections were confirmed on April 3, April 9 and April 16. Collectively, those three flocks housed 6,498,700 hens, according to APHIS figures.

Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch, according to the WATTPoultry.com Top Poultry Companies database, had a flock of 9.53 million hens in 2023. It ranks as the tenth largest egg producer in the United States.

To learn more about HPAI cases in commercial poultry flocks in the United States, Mexico and Canada, see an interactive map on WATTPoultry.com. 

View our continuing coverage of the global avian influenza situation

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