April 28, 2011

Five Million Chickens Were Likely Killed By Alabama Tornadoes That Destroyed Poultry Houses!!! :(

The Wall Street
written by Scott Kilman
Thursday April 28, 2011

Alabama officials estimated that up to 25% of the poultry houses in the state were destroyed or damaged Wednesday by the tornado outbreak, likely killing millions of birds.

Government officials in Alabama, the No.3 chicken-producing state behind Arkansas and Georgia, said Thursday that preliminary reports indicate that about 200 poultry houses were destroyed and another 180 were damaged by the fierce storms.

Alabama agricultural officials were having a difficult time gauging the damage because many rural roads were impassable Thursday. Likewise, electric power was out and telephone systems were down in many areas.

"We do anticipate the number of poultry mortalities to be substantial and we are currently working with poultry companies along with their growers to determine all damages," said Dr. Tony Frazier, Alabama's State Veterinarian.

Chicken farming is a multibillion-dollar industry in Alabama, where a typical poultry house contains about 20,000 birds.

The Alabama Poultry and Egg Association estimated that five million chickens probably died in the tornadoes, which slammed the northern part of the state, where the industry is centered. That alone isn't enough to disrupt chicken supplies nationally. The state usually produces about 21.5 million chickens in a week. The U.S. produces roughly nine billion chickens annually.

Industry officials caution that Alabama's bird losses could swell if many farmers aren't able to quickly re-establish water supplies. The tornadoes damaged many rural water systems.

"Power outages and loss of drinking water could worsen an already critical situation for poultry producers and meat processors," said John McMillan, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries, in a statement.

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