For those who love all things chicken, one may want to pay close attention to the grocery store, as Business Insider reports that in light of COVID-19 and the ensuing interruptions to the supply chain, chicken is becoming harder to acquire amid plant shutdowns and even the mass culling of birds in the food supply.
A poultry processing plant in Delaware has made the “difficult but necessary” decision to kill two million chickens as worker shortages push the US meat supply chain towards a breaking point.
Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc., a cooperative that works with some 1,300 farmers, said it looked at all other options, “including allowing another chicken company to transport and process the chickens and taking a partially processed product to rendering facilities to utilize for other animal feed,” but ultimately decided on euthanization.
“If no action were taken, the birds would outgrow the capacity of the chicken house to hold them,” the company said, noting that the birds will be killed “using approved, humane methods” and farmers will still be compensated.
It’s a small percentage of the 609 million chickens that Delmarva’s farmers raised in 2019, but the interruption highlights a problem facing meat producers across the United States: meat slaughtering operations can only be so automated. (source)
As a side note, I can say that from my own personal experience, this makes a lot of sense.
I know multiple chicken farmers personally and have even helped them as well. These are not “small timers”, but farmers who raise about 100,000 birds at a time per farmer. These are the people (among many, many others) who supply companies such as McDonalds and Wendys with food for their restaurants.
I can say as a fact from my work with them that they have not been receiving chicken shipments at all. The last culling was about a month ago, and since then there have only been fuel deliveries with a few chick deliveries. All else has been shut down production wise.
Now I say this as a side note because I do not want to substitute my personal experience as absolute proof here. However, I can say that my observations through my contacts align with this story.
2 million chickens is not a lot of chickens, since about a billion chickens are processed each year in the US alone. However, it is not just the slaughter, but the perception in the decline of production as well as the fact that the houses are not being stocked at full capacity.
Chickens require a minimum of a three-month turnaround. This is the general time it takes to process Cornish Cross Chickens (the ones you find in the supermarkets, which are mostly a cross between a Cornish Chicken and a White Rock Chicken) from egg to store (i.e. on the roaster at Wal-Mart or in a burger sitting in the frozen section at the local grocery).
The decline in chicken orders will likely not take effect until around June, depending on processing times for bird culling. From that point, it will be at least another three to six months before supply chains can be repaired by reviving production levels.
At this point, I would suggest two things.
First, buy some extra chicken. You will need to freeze it.
Second, consider buying more beans and rice. One does not need to live on meat, and it will get more expensive.
In addition, I would also suggest that one consider raising chicks. They are very easy to raise, they provide great meat and eggs, and one can easily seclude them away from the public eye if need be. They are also as not as noisy and smelly as one would think- the former comes from having a rooster (which you only need hens), and the latter comes from not cleaning their pen weekly.
Meat has always been a special thing because of scarcity throughout history, and perhaps we are returning more to a historical norm in the middle of what are currently, for the modern man, historically unprecedented times for him but not the history of the human race.