Meat & Livestock News

Dairy Cows Affected by Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza


HPAI was detected in older dairy cows in Texas, Kansas, and New Mexico. Commercial milk supply is safe due to pasteurisation. Wild birds are likely the source. 10% of affected herds impacted, low mortality. Limited milk loss. Farmers implementing biosecurity. U.S. dairy industry minimising trade impacts. Sen. Marshall: No human health concern.

Federal Agencies Investigate HPAI in Older Dairy Cattle

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has been detected in older dairy cows in Texas and Kansas. Federal agencies are also investigating the situation of older dairy cows in New Mexico that are experiencing decreased lactation, low appetite, and other symptoms.

Wild migratory birds are believed to be the source of infection.

Commercial Milk Supply Remains Safe

The commercial milk supply remains safe due to:

  • Federal animal health requirements
  • Pasteurisation

The Agriculture Department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) said in a news release that milk from the affected herds is not allowed to enter the milk supply.

Testing and Findings

As of today, APHIS said:

  • Unpasteurised, clinical samples of milk from sick cattle collected from:
    1. Two dairy farms in Kansas
    2. One in Texas
  • An oropharyngeal swab from another dairy in Texas
  • Have tested positive for HPAI

Additional testing was initiated on Friday and over the weekend because farms have also reported finding deceased wild birds on their properties.

Initial testing by the National Veterinary Services Laboratories has not found changes to the virus that would make it more transmissible to humans, which would indicate that the current risk to the public remains low.

No Concern for Commercial Milk Supply

APHIS stated:

“At this stage, there is no concern about the safety of the commercial milk supply or that this circumstance poses a risk to consumer health.”


  • Dairies must send only milk from healthy animals into processing for human consumption.
  • Milk from impacted animals is being diverted or destroyed so it does not enter the food supply.
  • Pasteurisation has continually proven to inactivate bacteria and viruses, like influenza, in milk.
  • Pasteurisation is required for any milk entering interstate commerce.

Impact on Dairy Herds and Supply

  • On average, about 10% of each affected herd appears to be impacted.
  • Little to no associated mortality was reported among the animals.
  • Milk loss resulting from symptomatic cattle to date is too limited to majorly impact supply.
  • There should be no impact on the price of milk or other dairy products.

Short sentence. Federal agencies are working with partners.

Rapidly Evolving Situation

“This is a rapidly evolving situation, and USDA and federal and state partners will continue to share additional updates as soon as information becomes available,” APHIS said.

Dairy Industry Response

The National Milk Producers Federation, the International Dairy Foods Association, the U.S. Dairy Export Council, and Dairy Management Inc. said in a joint statement that HPAI had been confirmed in two dairy cattle herds in Texas and two herds in Kansas.

The dairy groups said that dairy farmers have begun implementing enhanced biosecurity protocols on their farms, limiting the amount of traffic into and out of their properties and restricting visits to employees and essential personnel.

According to dairy farmers and veterinarians reporting on affected herds, most affected cows recover within two to three weeks.

Trade Implications

Outbreaks of illness often cause countries to consider restricting imports from the country where the illness occurred.

The U.S. dairy industry said it

“will continue to work with the U.S. federal government, trading partners and the World Organization for Animal Health to encourage adherence to WOAH standards and minimise all unnecessary or unfair trade impacts.”

Trading partners must not impose bans or restrictions on the international trade of dairy commodities in response to these and future notifications and rely on the science-based food safety steps taken in U.S. dairy processing, namely pasteurisation, in preserving market access.

U.S. Dairy Industry Statistics

  • The U.S. dairy herd has more than 9.3 million cows.
  • The U.S. dairy export value was $8.11 billion in 2023, the second-highest value on record.

Senator’s Statement

Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., said in a statement:

“My office has been in close contact with USDA, industry stakeholders, and the Kansas Department of Agriculture about confirmed cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza in dairy cattle at two farms in Kansas.”

He assured that there is not a human health concern, and dairymen work closely with veterinarians to monitor the health of their livestock and to ensure any sick cows are cared for and are not being milked for human consumption.

All milk for sale at local grocery stores has also been pasteurised, which is effective against influenza.

His office will continue to monitor this issue closely.