Floods kill 1.9 million chickens and turkeys

North Carolina farmers face the task of disposing of 1.9 million chickens and turkeys drowned in Hurricane Matthew flood waters.

Thirty-five farms in 15 counties lost poultry, said Brian Long, spokesman for the state Department of Agriculture. Most of those birds were chickens, but about 100,000 turkeys also died.

Preferred disposal is composting on site, using sawdust and other wood products, Long said. In some cases, the carcasses will be dumped in lined landfills.

So far, the department is working with three farms on chicken disposal and will expand the job as floodwater recedes.

“It’s still an unfolding situation,” he said.

Chicken disposal is a messy business.

The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality reported two trucks hauling dead chickens had problems getting them to an Onslow County municipal landfill Wednesday. In the Jones County town of Trenton, the tail gate of a truck opened and spilled birds and litter along a 30-foot stretch of Old New Bern Road. The county's emergency response employees oversaw the cleanup.

The second spill in Rhodestown in Onslow County left a few chickens and litter on the road. The road was cleaned with a sweeper.

Lynn Bonner: 919-829-4821, @Lynn_Bonner

Related stories from Raleigh News & Observer