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The surprising reason your eggs will cost more

May 22, 2015, 2:14 PM UTC
Chicken farms must convert to cage free in California
LAKESIDE, CA - NOVEMBER 6: 8000 cage-free chickens hang out and lay eggs in a new chicken house at Hilliker Egg Ranch, on November 6, 2014 in Lakeside, California. Owner Frank Hilliker is in the process of converting all his chicken houses to a cage-free system. He is a third-generation chicken farmer. California voters passed a new animal welfare law in 2008 to require that the state's egg-laying hens be given room to move around, but did not provide the funds for farmers to convert. Hillker had to take out a loan of $200,000 to build this new cage-free chicken house. (Photo by Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images)
Photograph by Melanie Stetson Freeman — Christian Science Monitor/Getty Images

The most devastating outbreak of bird flu on record has already killed 38.9 million birds, according to a report Friday in The Wall Street Journal, causing huge spikes in egg prices.

The vast majority of these dead birds–32 million–are egg-laying hens. That means that roughly 10% of the country’s egg producers have been wiped out by an epidemic about twice as worse as one that struck the chicken population back in the 1980s.

The bird flu outbreak is wrecking havoc on the market for eggs, as dramatically reduced supply has tripled the price of so-called “breaker eggs,” or those sold in liquid form to such companies as McDonalds. Wholesale egg prices are up about 85% at grocery stores in some parts of the country, the Journal reports.