April 15, 2020


US state euthanise chickens as COVID-19 hits poultry industry



Several Pennsylvania poultry farmers have made the tough decision to euthanise chickens after two poultry processing plants were temporarily shut down.


The said processing plants in Pennsylvania were temporarily shut down after employees tested positive for COVID-19, which slowed down work and left farmers with limited options.


"Any type of disruption can cause major issues," said Dr Gregory Martin, Penn State Extension Educator. "In the case of egg production, the chicks that are going to be put into these hen houses are ordered two years in advance," Martin said.


Which means new chickens are coming in, but with processors slowed down, farmers have nothing to do with their current batch of birds.


"When they're down, that just does a domino effect, and sometimes they can recover, but if it's some prolonged absence, then that causes problems," Martin said.


Those problems led to "more than two" Pennsylvania farms euthanising chicken, according to Martin. He said euthanisation is always the last resort and a substantial loss for farmers.


"They look at every opportunity they can to re-purpose these animals, and in the current situation, they were unable to," he said.


Martin said beefing up safety practices for workers is key. "Adding additional safety factors into place—both with extra equipment, extra safety devices," Martin said.


He said poultry was not hit as hard with the loss of restaurants and schools as other industries.


"By having the plants come back up and the workers returning to work in safety, I think it will do a large amount of good," Martin said.


We can all do a little good by refraining from panic buying. Martin said he has visited many farms state-wide, and there are plenty of eggs and chicken to go around.