Avian flu is nothing new, and as we continue to keep large quantities of poultry in ever increasing numbers in concentrated operations around the poultry processors, the occurrences are likely to become more severe and often. This is mostly because commercial poultry operations look like this:
The amount of birds grown for two months in each coop can easily be 8,000 if not more. Each farm can have upward of 100,000 birds with a processing plant central to 10-20 farms, in what can equate to a million birds processed a month for one processing facility. The numbers are staggering.
The yin to the commercial yang is the small free range outfit, where a few hundred birds just kind of do their thing:
The population density matters. On a small scale we can isolate the sick individual immediately without having to cull the flock. In a commercial operation, there are always a few dead amongst the living. By Identifying a cause takes time and culling the entire population will occur.
It is purely a matter of debate over which operation is better to provide protein into the food supply. On one hand, an abundant, cheap supply of protein is easily available to the masses at any given street corner. On the other, small direct from the free-range poultry farm, hand the consumer has to be a little more methodical and purchase a whole broiler with a plan in mind. The end purpose is the same, the paths we go to get there are wildly not.
A localized avian flu outbreak can raise prices locally and provide shortages. When the flu is epidemic, shortages can be felt throughout the entire country, with food prices continuing to increase. Proteins are more expensive than ever and this is likely to make that worse.