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Delaware chicken company forced to kill up to 2 million chickens because of sick employees

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What a mess

Photo by Jeff Fusco/Getty Images

Allen Harim Foods says it will kill up to 2 million chickens because they are not able to keep up with farm-related demands.

The company is short-staffed because of the COVID-19 crisis.

What are the details?

In a memo, the company said that it would begin the process of depopulating chickens because of major staffing issues at its local processing plant in Delaware.

Michele V. Minton, director of live operations at the company, wrote, "We are no longer able to harvest the amount of birds needed daily or weekly to maintain target weight and ages."

"When we started noticing the downward trend in attendance, we reduced the number of eggs set and chicks placed," the memo continued. "Unfortunately, reduced placements will not make an impact for six weeks with the continued attendance decline, and building bird inventory daily, we are forced to make a very difficult decision."

That decision? Killing off nearly 2 million chickens across the state.

"Growers whose flocks we depopulate will be fairly compensated by Allen Harim," the memo concluded.

What else?

According to the Delaware News Journal, Allen Harim officials have not spoken publicly about the memo.

The outlet reported, "Companies like Allen Harim enter into contracts with individual farmers to grow the chickens they slaughter and process."

"Generally, the companies supply the chicks and food, while the farmers supply the housing and care. Once the birds are big enough, they are sent to processing plants like the one Allen Harim operates to be slaughtered and processed into meat products, such as packaged chicken wings," the outlet added.

Delaware Poultry Industry Executive Director Holly Porter said that the impact of COVID-19 on the poultry industry is widespread, and especially on the Delmarva peninsula.

"The impact of COVID-19 on the U.S. chicken industry is becoming more apparent as the disease continues to spread throughout the United States," Porter said.

At the time of this writing, Johns Hopkins University reports that at least 1,926 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Delaware. At least 43 people have died because of the virus.

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