Poultry growers regroup after cold snap

Posted by Cody Holyoke - bio | email

LOWNDESBORO, AL (WSFA) - Poultry grower Kirk Meadows can appreciate the warm up.

"I'm loving it," he exclaimed.

He's happy now that temperatures are above freezing.  It makes taking care of 132,000 vulnerable young birds a bit easier.

"I got [this batch of] chickens on January 1st, which I believe was the day that it dropped into the teens that night," Meadows explained.

The newest batch is a costly one--especially when you consider the six 20,000 square foot buildings used to house them.

"[We're] monitoring our temperatures and making sure all the heaters are working correctly and trying to stop all the cold air holes," Meadows said.

The problem with maintaining chicken houses in the bitter cold is heat.

The cost to keep houses up to temperature cuts deeply into a grower's bottom line.

"A third of what I bring in will be used on propane," Meadows said.

"I'm at about 40% on my tanks right now, so before this week is up, they'll come again."

Thousands and thousands of dollars expelled thanks to Mother Nature.   Don't forget freezing pipes--another problem that can quickly increase operating costs.

"I know of some growers who lease houses, and their propane bill is greater than their income off the chickens," Meadows explained.

With warmer, more seasonable temperatures now gracing Alabama, some growers are left hoping their batches turn a profit.

"Until these chickens are gone, we have to deal with it," Meadows said.

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