According to a major poultry producer, approximately 1.7 million chickens have drowned thanks to rising flood waters as a direct result of Hurricane Florence. At least 60 farm buildings in North Carolina have been compromised as the river system swamped them. However, that number could be drastically worse with many chickens still isolated until flood waters recede.
According to NBC News, Sanderson Farms have revealed that “the losses occurred at independent farms that supply its poultry processing plants.” Sanderson Farms said on Tuesday that the facilities themselves suffered no damage. But, obviously, the loss of poultry life was a devastating blow to the industry.
In addition, supply disruptions caused by flooded roadways has led to shutdowns of some plants. NBC News also notes that approximately 30 farms near Lumberton have been isolated on account of Hurricane Florence. This has been “hampering the delivery of feed to animals” and it is possible this disruption could lead to more chicken fatalities. USA Today states that the number of chickens at the 30 isolated farms is numbered at approximately 6 million. So, if the flood waters do not recede quickly, the loss could spiral dramatically upwards.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service, North Carolina is ranked fourth in the nation for production of broiler chickens, making it a major poultry producer. The statistics show that 800 million broiler chickens were produced in North Carolina in 2017.
USA Today states that in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, the “overall cost to the state’s agriculture is still unknown.” However, with poultry losses already topping 1.7 million, it is expected the impact will be felt by those in the industry.
Major flooding is still an issue despite the sun shining on parts of North Carolina on Tuesday. Flooding is expected to peak by Thursday.
In addition, NBC News also states that the hog industry has also taken a hit as a result of Hurricane Florence. The N.C. Pork Council has revealed that some pigs have died as a result of flooding caused by Hurricane Florence. However, “mortality figures are not yet available.” Previously, 2,800 hogs were lost during flooding from Hurricane Matthew in 2016. However, prior to Hurricane Florence, pork farmers did work hard to move pigs to higher ground ahead of Florence’s arrival.
The Department of Environmental Quality also stated that “the earthen dam at one hog lagoon in Duplin County had breached, spilling its contents.” This could lead to contamination as the lagoon contained animal feces and urine. It is also expected that the flooded poultry farms will also lead to extra fecal contamination. In addition, NBC News also reports that contamination from human feces from the low-lying municipal sewage plants is a possibility.