Over 1 Million Birds Killed by Hurricane Matthew on North Carolina's Poultry Farms

18 October 2016, at 6:00am

US - Initial reports show that North Carolina’s agricultural industries took a beating from the recent Hurricane Matthew.

The 48 counties affected by the storm are some of North Carolina’s largest food producing areas.

In addition to crops, Eastern North Carolina also has a large poultry and swine population. Initial reports show that 1.9 million birds, mostly broiler chickens, have died as a result of the storm.

However, considering the extent of the flooding, State Veterinarian Doug Meckes expects that number to rise. North Carolina growers raise more than 800 million birds each year.

Veterinary officials and the department’s Environmental Programs Division staff are working with growers on proper disposal of the birds. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler requested and was granted a $6 million grant from FEMA to purchase carbon material to compost the carcasses and mitigate the potential public health risk.

Composting is the preferred method of disposal as it reduces leeching of farm waste, reduces pest and disease issues and prevents odour issues. The finished compost can then be used for agricultural purposes. Farms have begun requesting carbon materials and deliveries began today.

North Carolina's agriculture department said the hog industry did a good job preparing for this event and taking proactive measures to reduce populations or move hogs to higher ground.

“The industry learned a lot since Hurricane Floyd in 1999,” said Mr Troxler.