Coronavirus-related staffing shortages at chicken processing plants will lead farms in Maryland and Delaware to destroy nearly 2 million chickens.
The Baltimore Sun reported Friday that the plants are unable to keep pace with the number of birds that are ready for harvest. They had been placed into poultry houses as chicks several weeks ago.
The chickens will not be processed for meat.
The trade group the Delmarva Poultry Industry said that every poultry plant on the Delmarva Peninsula has struggled with reduced worker attendance. The reasons include workers being sick with the coronavirus and people following guidance to stay home if sick.
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The Delmarva Peninsula includes parts of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.
The trade group said that one unidentified company has become the first to do what's called “depopulation.” The trade group said the company was unable to find other options, such as allowing another company to take the chickens.
The trade group said that the extermination methods have been approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association for handling cases of infectious avian disease.
Animal activists are raising concerns. Save Delmarva Chickens said it’s inhumane to use measures designed to control avian flu on healthy birds.