According to North Carolina state officials, about 3.4m chickens and turkeys and 5,500 pigs have been killed in the flooding caused by Hurricane Florence.
The hurricane swept through the US east coast, causing more than 40 deaths and more than US$22bn worth of damage to the region.
Poultry processor Sanderson Farms reported that 60 of its 880 broiler houses in North Carolina had flooded, as did four of its broiler houses, which led to the destruction of 1.7m head. The business also expressed concern that 30 of its farms had been isolated by flood waters, which could lead to more loss of head if access was not regained.
Sanderson Farms does not believe the loss of housing capacity will affect its ongoing operations, as it can shorten layouts and take other temporary measures to compensate for these losses.
Joe Sanderson Jr, chairman and chief executive officer of Sanderson Farms, said: “I am pleased that our assets were not significantly damaged by the hurricane. While the storm’s impact on our live inventories and live production process will have an impact on the company’s capacity and volume over the next two months, none of the losses sustained will be long term.”
He added that the business would be helping to provide ice, water, food and other necessities to those affected by the hurricane.
Fellow processor Tyson Foods is also helping with the relief effort. Teams from its operations in Arkansas, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia have gone to North Carolina to serve meals from the company’s Meals that Matter mobile disaster relief truck.