In Delaware and Maryland, 2 million chickens will be killed - and not undergo processing for meat - because the workers have been forced to be absent from work because they feel sick.
The Delmarva Poultry Industry disclosed that every poultry facility on the Delmarva area has been hounded by a reduced number of people reporting for work.
Employees who called in sick with coronavirus and those who follow guidance to stay at home if having any symptoms have increased the stress in the workplace.
The decreased presence of workers at the company's facilities is a consequence of increased COVID-19 population cases, increased monitoring, and people following the "stay at home if you're not feeling well" social distancing advice from public health authorities, based on a statement from the Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc.
The animals will be depopulated using licensed "humane methods" endorsed by the American Veterinary Medical Association, and all state and local protocols, the company disclosed.
Delmarva Poultry, a cooperative that works with approximately 1,300 agriculture personnel and farmers, divulged that it considered all other alternatives, including having another chicken firm to move and process the chickens and taking a partly processed product to facilities to utilize for other animal feed, but eventually decided euthanasia was the best course of action.
According to the company, if no action was taken, the chicken would outgrow the capacity of their houses that holds them, stressing that the animals would be depopulated using a humane method approved by veterinarian groups where farmers would still get some form of payment.
Yet animal activists were airing their worries. Save Delmarva Chickens said taking steps designed to suppress avian flu on healthy animals is inhumane.
Former US Chief Veterinary Officer for the US Agriculture Department, John Clifford, pointed out in 2016 that the easiest and potentially the most humane method to depopulate in the midst of avian flu was to close down ventilation systems.
Depopulation is a method where significant numbers of livestock need to be killed in response to an animal health crisis, the Department of Agriculture explained.
The Maryland Agriculture Department disclosed that it learned about the company's plans to get rid of the chickens on April 9 and "continues to monitor for any developments."
In 2016, the USDA reported that there are two primary ways they use to depopulate HPAI-affected flocks: water-based foam for floor-raised chicken and carbon dioxide gas for the caged ones. The USDA said these methods are the most humane and effective options available during a crisis situation that involves mass numbers of birds.