Tornadoes claim 1.2 million birds in Mississippi, Alabama
60 poultry houses destroyed by storms, many others damaged
An estimated 1,044,800 birds were killed or lost in Mississippi and another 181,000 were lost in Alabama after tornadoes struck April 27-28. Between the two states, about 60 poultry houses were destroyed.
Eighteen farms in Mississippi received substantial losses from the storms, according to Dr. Jim Watson, state veterinarian for the Mississippi Board of Animal Health.
On those 18 farms, a total of 28 poultry houses were damaged and 48 were destroyed, Watson said.
“No hatcheries or processing facilities were hit. Most were broiler farms, but there were a handful of breeder farms,” Watson said.
The damage was “fairly localized,” Watson said, with all of the poultry farm tornado damage reported in Scott, Newton, Winston and Wayne Counties. The most recent storm-related poultry loss figures do not include the storms that hit the state in the earlier part of April, he added.
While Mississippi saw a heavy amount of damage in a fairly concentrated area, the damage in Alabama affected fewer farms and covered a wider geographical area, said Ray Hilburn, associate director of the Alabama Poultry & Egg Association.
“We lost some throughout the state, but it was the worst in the north part of the state,” he said. “We had about 12 houses that totally got destroyed, and we had hundreds of houses that had tin torn out and things like that.”
While about 181,000 birds were killed in the Alabama storms, about 500,000 surviving birds had to be moved to new barns after the destruction occurred, according to Hilburn's tally as of May 6. Two poultry houses were destroyed by flooding, while another was lost to a lightning strike.
The Alabama tornadoes damaged broiler, pullet and breeder farms, Hilburn said. No processing plants, feed mills or hatcheries were affected.
Tyson Foods assisting producers, communities hit by storms
Eight poultry farms hit by tornadoes were growers for Tyson Foods, according to Gary Mickelson, director of public relations, Tyson Foods. Team members from Tyson Foods have been assisting those farmers with cleanup efforts and are hoping the producers will be able to soon begin rebuilding.
Tyson Foods has also been providing tornado relief in other ways. The company has provided disaster relief to communities in Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Kansas and Tennessee that sustained major tornado damage. Tyson’s Meals that Matter disaster relief trailer was sent to Central Arkansas, and the company sent food, ice and cooking teams to other affected areas, Donnie Smith, CEO of Tyson Foods said during a May 4 conference call.
Tyson employees have also pledged financial assistance, with the company matching its workers’ contributions to the American Red Cross, up to $100,000.
“I’m proud of our team members and their willingness to help and make a difference in the aftermath of these storms,” said Smith.