Fire causes loss of 280,000 Gemperle Farms hens

A barn housing hens for Gemperle Farms was destroyed by a fire on April 23 in Stanislaus County, California.

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Elvis Santana | Freeimages.com
Elvis Santana | Freeimages.com

A barn housing hens for Gemperle Farms was destroyed by a fire on April 23 in Stanislaus County, California.

An estimated 280,000 hens died in the fire, a spokesperson for Gemperle Farms told the Turlock Journal.

The fire was reported around 12:59 p.m.

“The building was completely involved when I arrived, so anything that was inside is going to perish,” said Ceres Fire Battalion Chief Jeff Serpa.

Fire departments from Hughson, Keyes, Denair, Ceres, Westport, Burbank, Woodland Avenue, Newman, Patterson, Salida, Mountain View and Turlock responded to the situation. The barn measured about 200 feet by 400 feet.

While on the scene, firefighters protected another structure in the vicinity, and had to contain several small spot fires that broke out in nearby fields.

The cause of the fire is unknown. An investigation is taking place.

Headquartered in Turlock, Gemperle Farms is the 19th largest egg producer in the United States with a flock of 5.1 million hens. According to the WATTAgNet Top Poultry Companies Database, Gemperle Farms produces all varieties of eggs from enriched colony barn eggs, to specialty eggs such as browns, organic, cage free, omega-3 and cage-free fertile. All of the company’s eggs are produced without the use of antibiotics.

The company announced in 2016 that it intended to convert all of its operations to cage-free egg production by 2024.

Previous egg facility fires

Gemperle Farms is the second egg company in the United States to experience a fire at one of its facilities during the past week. A fire occurred at Trillium Farms’ operation in Croton, Ohio, on April 21. At the time, the company said several barns were affected, but the full extent of the losses were not yet known.

Three other egg companies – Michael Foods, Konos and Cal-Maine Foods – have also experienced fire losses with the past six months.  

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