More than 300,000 chickens being raised for Pilgrim’s have been killed by vandals in Clarendon County, South Carolina.
The county’s sheriff says he believes the killings were not done randomly, but instead that the poultry company is being targeted by someone with a working knowledge of how chickens are raised that wants to cause financial harm to the company.
"They know how to turn the heat on or off to kill these birds," Sheriff Randy Garrett told WLTX. "They know what those birds require to live in those houses and they know how this operates."
In three incidents involving a total of eight farms, the vandals have killed more than 300,000 chickens to farms licensed with Pilgrim’s. Garrett estimates the total loss is around $1.7 million dollars.
Ambrose Hahn, one of the contract growers whose farm was hit, explained that the alarm had been turned off, and by the time he and his brothers reached the farm, he lost two houses containing 40,000 chickens. Hahn says each house is worth $10,000 for the farmers, but much more for the company.
Garrett is seeking the public’s help in solving the crimes.
Contacted by WLTX, the company issued the following statement: "Pilgrim's was recently made aware of acts of vandalism in Clarendon County that have resulted in the loss of chickens raised by some of our contract grower partners. These unfortunate, yet apparently deliberate acts show a blatant disregard for the welfare of the chickens and the livelihood of the family farmers involved. We are fully cooperating with local authorities. Given the ongoing investigation, we have no further comment at this time."