Cold weather taking a toll on poultry farmers

JASPER, Ala. (WIAT) – The poultry business is getting hit hard by this arctic blast.  Farmers who raise broiler chickens get them fresh from the egg.The problem, though, is these chicks need a toasty 92 degrees for the first week after hatching, and propane heat is expensive and only given in limited amounts.Jasper farmer B.J. Hyde typically has about 120,000 chickens on his 20,000 square foot poultry farm. Now, his four chicken house are empty. He can’t afford the propane.

He says farmers are only allowed 250 gallons a week per tank.  He says 250 gallons wouldn’t last him a week, which would mean his entire batch of chicks would die.

He sold his last batch of chickens two weeks ago.  It cost  $8,000 to heat them for 37 days compared to a year ago when he only had to use his heater for about one week.

He says these temperatures are killing farmers financially who are forced to heat 24 hours a day.

At this point Hyde describes it as a “catch 22”, he either spends thousands to heat the chicks and risk running out of propane and the entire watch as 120,000 chickens die or lose money by not raising any poultry at all.

Hyde says all poultry farmers are dealing with this problem and the shortage of chicken will effect consumers at the grocery store in the near future.

Copyright 2014 WIAT-TV CBS42

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