Although the estimates vary, North Carolina officials say Hurricane Matthew killed up to 5 million birds, mainly broiler chickens. Meanwhile, the state’s Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services says an estimated 1.9 million chickens and turkeys were killed, but cautioned that the number of poultry deaths could rise as more information becomes available.
“Initial reports show that 1.9 million birds, mostly broiler chickens, have died as a result of the storm … considering the extent of the flooding, State Veterinarian Doug Meckes expects that number to rise,” the state’s agriculture department noted in a recent statement.
North Carolina growers raise more than 800 million birds each year. Officials said they are working to quickly dispose of dead animal carcases. The 48 counties affected by the storm are some of North Carolina’s largest ag counties, according to state officials. Reports of damaged crops are also trickling in.
The total estimated losses are $1.5 billion worth of damage to more than 100,000 homes, businesses and government buildings, according to recent news reports.