Machine offers disposal of dead fowl

US - Nearly every day starts the same way for David Mayer, a chicken farmer for Perdue. He rises at dawn to walk the lengths of four chicken houses, grabbing dead birds by their stiff yellow feet and throwing them into 5-gallon buckets.

On North Carolina's approximately 5,000 poultry farms, tens of thousands of birds die every day. It's simply part of raising chickens 20,000 to a house.

Every year, the toll on N.C. chicken farms easily tops 25 million carcasses, Department of Agriculture data show.

Getting rid of the dead is a smelly and time-consuming chore, and it poses an environmental threat that is rarely discussed.

On most chicken farms, the birds go into a mass grave that could pollute groundwater, an incinerator that belches putrid smoke or a compost bin that takes weeks to turn them into fertilizer. Some are trucked to landfills or rendering plants - a risk when deadly diseases such as bird flu are spreading around the world.

Now, Mayer says he has a better way: a machine that reduces dead chickens to sterile ash without a single unpleasant odor.

The process is called gasification. He is hoping the technology will catch on as poultry farming continues to grow. Chickens and turkeys are already Tar Heel farmers' No. 1 moneymaker.

Source: Mertyl Beach Online
calendar icon 10 March 2006
clock icon 1 minute read
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