Hurricane season is risking the lives of billions of chickens, with fears half of America’s poultry population could perish if particularly violent storms strike.
The broiler chicken industry is braced for a rough few months of devastating winds, rain and other devastating weather conditions.
The broiler breed of chicken supplies the vast majority of chicken breasts, thighs, eggs and more that are enjoyed by Americans and is largely reared in states that are at risk of hurricanes.
The USA produced 9.18 billion birds last year – but it is feared more than half this number are at risk of being killed by severe weather in 2020.
An estimated 5.1 billion broilers live in six of the top 10 hurricane states – with Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi in the danger zone, with hurricane season lasting for six months between June 1 and November 30.
The Conversation reports that even the best prepared chicken coops can still not offer enough protection as flooding can be as deadly for foul as the storms.
They report: “Even though most broiler houses are built well inland from the coast and often are constructed with hurricane straps and braces to withstand wind damage, flooding is often a major concern where hurricanes are involved.”
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Giving examples of the bird massacres of recent years, the publication continues: “Georgia poultry farmers lost over 2 million chickens to Hurricane Michael in 2018.
“North Carolina poultry growers lost 4.1 million birds in Hurricane Florence that same year, following a loss of 5 million to Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
“And Mississippi poultry growers lost 6 million chickens in Hurricane Katrina in 2005.”
It is feared climate change is leading to more powerful storms – with the global organisation that categories hurricanes running out of names before the season has even finished.
Researchers at North Carolina State University have advised poultry houses be built to withstand 140 mph winds to help protect against the elements.
While they also advising raising roosts one foot off the ground to protect from flooding to avoid devastating chicken deaths reaching billions.
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