At Least 240,000 Chickens Are Killed in Fire at Florida Egg Farm

At Least 240,000 Chickens Are Killed in Fire at Florida Egg Farm

At Least 240,000 Chickens Are Killed in Fire at Florida Egg Farm

At Least 240,000 Chickens Are Killed in Fire at Florida Egg Farm

At least 240,000 chickens were killed early Thursday when a fire swept through two densely packed barns in Florida owned by one of the nation’s largest distributors of shell eggs, the authorities said.

The fire was reported around 1 a.m. by farmhands at the Cal-Maine Foods facility in Dade City, Fla., Shawn Whited, operations division chief for the Pasco County Fire Rescue, said in an interview.

Both barns that were destroyed housed two large coops, each of which had been filled with more than 60,000 young hens, known as pullets, that had not yet started to lay eggs, officials said. The farm is in a rural part of the county — about 40 miles northeast of Tampa — that does not have fire hydrants.

“So we had to bring in tanker trucks,” Chief Whited said.

The cause of the fire was under investigation by the state fire marshal, according to Chief Whited, who said that the financial loss had been estimated at $1 million. The farm has four barns altogether.

The blaze was the latest in a spate of barn fires across the United States that have drawn the scrutiny of animal welfare groups.

Representatives from Cal-Maine Foods, which is based in Jackson, Miss., did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday night.

Max Bowman, the company’s chief financial officer and a vice president, told The Tampa Bay Times that 2 to 3 percent of the company’s pullets had been lost in the fire and that it was not expected to disrupt production.

“We’re fully insured,” Mr. Bowman told the newspaper.

On the company’s website, Cal-Maine Foods estimated that it accounted for 19 percent of shell eggs consumed in the United States. Eggland’s Best and Land O’ Lakes are produced and processed at Cal-Maine Foods facilities, the company’s website said.

Cal-Maine Foods previously faced criticism from animal welfare groups about the conditions at its facilities.

Responding to the criticism, Mr. Bowman told The Tampa Bay Times on Thursday that the company followed all regulatory and industry guidelines regarding spacing at its farms.

“Cal-Maine is a large public company and we endeavor to do things right,” Mr. Bowman said.

Earlier this week, the Animal Welfare Institute estimated that more than 1.6 million farm animals had died in barn fires in the United States this year, 1.3 million of which were cage-free hens.

“It is completely unacceptable for the industry to tolerate massive numbers of animals burning to death when there are effective fire prevention and suppression strategies available,” Dena Jones, farm animal program director for the group, said in a statement two days before the fire in Florida.


Source link

Check Also

The Business Case for Boardroom Diversity

The Business Case for Boardroom Diversity

The Business Case for Boardroom Diversity The Business Case for Boardroom Diversity The DealBook newsletter …