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US: 61K chickens euthanized after virus kills demand

Slaughter of livestock brings farmer economic uncertainty, according to US newspaper

Michael Gabriel Hernandez   | 22.04.2020
US: 61K chickens euthanized after virus kills demand


Far from shuttered storefronts forced to close to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, livestock have been euthanized because of reduced demand and farmers have been thrown into economic uncertainty, according to a recent report.

At one farm in Albany, Minnesota, 61,000 chickens were killed in one fell swoop after a neighboring fluid egg plant that the farm was supplying abruptly shut down due to reduced demand, according to the Minnesota-based Star Tribune newspaper.

The farm is run by Kerry Mergen, an egg farmer who was under contract with Daybreak Foods.

Mergen said the company informed him his chickens might be killed early even though his contract called for him to produce eggs until the fall.

While demand for eggs from the food service industry and education facilities has cratered, demand for eggs from consumers has skyrocketed, actually leading to increased prices at grocery stores, according to the Star Tribune.

That could be due, in part, to the fact that much of the U.S.'s egg production system is dedicated to making fluid eggs, not the cartoned whole eggs purchased by consumers at markets across the country.

Mergen told the newspaper his was the smallest of five egg farms where chickens have been euthanized en masse in recent weeks, but the Star Tribune could not independently verify the claim.

He said a crew of 15 workers arrived at his farm early one morning with carbon dioxide to kill his birds, and were finished by the evening, hauling the carcasses to a facility where they would be processed into dog food.

“It’s a very challenging time. It’s very stressful on farmers,” Kevin Stiles of the Chicken & Egg Association of Minnesota, told the newspaper.

Mergen’s wife, Barb, said when the company abruptly came in and killed their flock "that was our paycheck euthanized."

“They didn’t confide in us, they didn’t ask us, they didn’t care about what effect this would have on us,” she told the newspaper. “Our contract says at least a seven-day written notice. That’s not much, but it’s more than this. We just feel like we’re a nobody at the end.”

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