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The Nebraska egg farmer says prices could rise even higher

JULIAN, Neb. (Nebraska) — Egg prices have skyrocketed nationwide, with some farm-fresh eggs costing $7 per dozen in Nebraska.

Beth Kernse Krause, co-owner of Al-Be Farm in Julian, said prices could get even worse this season.

“We haven’t taken on new customers because we don’t have enough,” he said. “Our offer is too limited.”

The biggest culprit is bird flu.

SEE ALSO: Nebraska officials report third case of bird flu in Knox County

Studies show that 2022 was the deadliest year in the United States for bird flu.

Kernse Krause said it was most prevalent on commercial farms, where chickens would have to be killed if they became infected.

Chicken deaths impacted supply for all players in the industry.

“It’s getting harder to find girls,” Kernse Krause said. “The hatcheries are running out. We don’t even have our chicks yet for this year.

SEE ALSO: 2,000 birds fill the event center despite a difficult year with bird flu

He said the farm was lucky enough not to have to raise prices, which have remained stable at $4.50 per dozen.

Kernse Krause credits her customers in her small town, along with a restaurant that buys most of the eggs Al-Be produces.

He said the farm hasn’t lost any money but isn’t making the growth it had anticipated.

And he said if bird flu strikes again this year, things will get worse for Al-Be.

“If we lost all of our birds, we would have to start all over at ground zero, there would be no birds whatsoever,” said Kernse Krause.

SEE ALSO: Omaha Zoo reopens two exhibits after no further cases of bird flu

He said starting from scratch would have been too great a risk for a small farm like his.

Once a chick is obtained, Kernse Krause said it can take up to five months before they can reliably lay eggs.

“We’ll just have to see what happens this year,” he said. “We will be receiving our first batch of chicks here in a couple of weeks, which is a couple of weeks later than usual.”

And because so many hatcheries have raised prices and are behind on orders, prices are unlikely to fall anytime soon.

Kernse Krause said it will likely be Labor Day before the farm produces a steady supply of eggs.

SEE ALSO: Lincoln Children’s Zoo closes several exhibits to prevent the spread of bird flu

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