Farmer Says 61,000 Chickens Euthanized as Egg Sales Drop

A sharp drop in demand for eggs has one Minnesota farmer seeing 61,000 of his chickens euthanized amid the nation’s coronavirus lockdown.

Kerry Mergen, a contract egg farmer near Albany, Minn., got word on a Wednesday the chickens in his barn would be euthanized. A crew showed up the next morning and started gassing the birds with carbon dioxide.

The sudden drop in demand for food at restaurants, school cafeterias and caterers shut down by the pandemic has ripped through farming. Milk has been dumped, eggs smashed and ripe lettuce plowed under.

Now, farms are killing animals sooner than planned.

Mergen said he initially couldn’t believe it when a field manager from Daybreak Foods, the Lake Mills, Wis.-based firm that owned and paid to feed the flock of 61,000 birds, said they might be killed early. His contract called for the flock to produce eggs until fall.

Mergen told the newspaper that a group of 15 workers armed with carbon dioxide began euthanizing the chickens on April 6th at 6:30 A.M. and used semi trailers to remove the dead birds.

“They come in with carts, put them all in carts, wheel them up to the end, put a hose in that cart and gas them, then dump them over the edge into a conveyor and convey them up into semis and the semis haul them out,” explained Mergen. “I was in there for quite a while and the longer I was there the more disgusted and disappointed I was knowing that I’m not going to see anything put back in my checkbook again, so after a while I just simply left.”

The incident occurred after Cargill Inc.’s fluid eggplant in Big Lake, Minnesota, temporarily shut down last week, leaving 300 employees without a job. The food giant pointed to a large decline in demand as it shut down the plant that sees roughly 800 million eggs annually.

“It is important to note that food-service orders have not stopped, but with the decline in food-service orders, Cargill and its egg suppliers are working diligently to rebalance supply to match these consumer and customer shifts,” a Cargill spokesperson said in a statement.

The Mergens said they are still reeling from the ordeal, feeling disappointed that Daybreak did not consult them about there decision to euthanize the chickens.

“They didn’t confide in us, they didn’t ask us, they didn’t care about what effect this would have on us,” Barb Mergen said. “Our contract says at least a seven-day written notice. That’s not much, but it’s more than this. We just feel like we’re a nobody at the end.”

Up until earlier this month, the Mergens had been running their egg farming operation for 22 years.

“It’s a very challenging time. It’s very stressful on farmers,” said Kevin Stiles of the Chicken & Egg Association of Minnesota.

33 Replies to “Farmer Says 61,000 Chickens Euthanized as Egg Sales Drop”

  1. Marilyn

    That’s stupid! Why not give them away to people or charge a few cents for each and at least they could be eaten. Wouldn’t that be better than just killing them? You would at lest get a few cents instead of nothing and then they could be eaten instead of just rotting! It’s just the same thinking as abortion! If I don’t want it no one can have it I’ll just kill it! Stupid!

  2. Aaron McCombs

    We live in Denham Springs, LA and we have an egg shortage here! The Walmarts here limit purchase and when they have eggs they jack up the price from $5. to over $17 for a 5 dozen case..what is wrong with this picture??

  3. Norman

    QUESTIONS TO PONDER. HOW could the WORLD MASTERLY COME DOWN AT THE SAME TIME WITH THE VIRUS? WHY, has there been NO TRUE NUMBERS of who died directly from the virus VS as too contributing to death?

    NOW THE BIGGIE! IF mask are suppose to prevent passage of the disease WHY was not all these businesses made to provide them to keep business going.

    SO as my feeble mind and education gives this question. Knowing that untold numbers of American Indians were infected by disease brought from Europe, they (Indians) had never been exposed, then as time went on they acquired immunity. SO if we all go and hide how can the homo sapiens acquire an immunity to this virus.? So much education so stupid they are. OH I get it now, ALL THE COMPUTERS WILL TAKE CARE OF THE PROBLEM. FAT CHANCE! GOVERNMENT AT IT FINEST. BOTH SIDES.

  4. Norman

    QUESTIONS TO PONDER. HOW could the WORLD MYSTERY COME DOWN AT THE SAME TIME WITH THE VIRUS? WHY, has there been NO TRUE NUMBERS of who died directly from the virus VS as too contributing to death? OH MORE POLITICAL COVER UPS!

    NOW THE BIGGIE! IF mask are suppose to prevent passage of the disease WHY was not all these businesses made to provide them to keep business going.

    SO as my feeble mind and education gives this question. Knowing that untold numbers of American Indians were infected by disease brought from Europe, they (Indians) had never been exposed, then as time went on they acquired immunity. SO if we all go and hide how can the homo sapiens acquire an immunity to this virus.? So much education so stupid they are. OH I get it now, ALL THE COMPUTERS WILL TAKE CARE OF THE PROBLEM. FAT CHANCE! GOVERNMENT AT IT FINEST. BOTH SIDES.

    • Dale Lipscomb Martin

      Yes, it is tragic. But dead chickens do not have the overhead costs of feed, hormones, medicine, or the contract husbandry of good people like the Mergens.
      “I’ve been told, but I don’t know”:
      The Chinese Communist Party accidentally released this virus from their lab, but they deliberately loosed it on the world, when they realized how it was going to affect their ability to compete with the capitalist west, it appears. It should be called the “CCP COVID-19”, because the CCP deliberately let their infected people who fled from Wuhan fly to the U.S and the E.U. we have not seen the end of the negative effects yet, I regret to write.

  5. Jerry

    It’s totally stupid to kill flicks of chickens, other farm livestock, and also be destroying vegetable crops. People have become complete idiots to ruin a lifetime of farming over the virus. What are the big corporations who contract the farming getting out of this? A tax write off and then the government giving them money on top of it? Doesn’t help the farmers.

  6. Maria Blaxton

    There is absolutely no excuse for these companies to be killing chickens that feed this country. Just like milk, there are people who are hungry. Give it away, don’t just pour it out. Why do we throw away fruits and vegetables. Utterly ridiculous.

    • David Clemons

      Those birds were destined for slaughter at the end of their egg laying cycle. The flock owner, in this case Daybreak Farms will have a contract with one of the soup companies that utilize the meat for their products. It is doubtful that they let the chickens go to waste. If Daybreak is Chinese owned then there may be a darker side to this.

    • Deborah

      Your in Omar’s state. Another Democratic that wants our country to go down. Vote them out or it will be 10 times worse than that.

  7. Juan Cruz

    couldn’t those eggs and chickens have been donated to food pantries for the people who cannot afford food right now?

    • Karen

      I don’t know who said egg sales are down…there are either very few eggs in stores or in some stores, egg sales are down because the prices have literally tripled!! Wal Mart in CA sold a case of 60 eggs for around $5.00. Now, that same case of 60 eggs were $15.00 last week!! THAT’S why egg sales are down. Not because there is an overabundance of them!! Someone needs to tell the stores to stop price gouging because they are hurting more than just the consumers!!!

  8. Wanda Johnson

    Then why is there a shortage of eggs in the stores I go to? Is this a ploy for the raising of prices in the stores? Is it just like the make-believe gas shortage?

  9. Gail

    Why wouldn’t they give the eggs to food banks? I am eating more eggs. What a waste. Stupid. You didn’t think of your fellow man.

  10. Steven David of aver

    Farmers – Instead of killing your chickens or plowing crops under. Why don’t you give chickens away and donate your crops to food banks and write the loss off and help humanity.

  11. Jennifer Wittstruck

    I love eggs. But the price keeps going up…. So I can’t afford them anymore. Sorry.I’m doing without til prices come down again.

    • J. D. Richmond

      In this egg situation, the farmers are not to blame! They do not, repeat – do not, own the chickens. So please some if you misguided Dudley Do Rights quit blaming the farmers. They are under contract to raise a company’s chickens. This action hurt them by eliminating their paychecks!

  12. David Clemons

    This was done at the same time the grocery stores, Walmart, Price Chopper, Aldi, Hiv, Thriftway ect. in Kansas are limiting egg sales because they can’t get the eggs. Someone is pulling some $h!t with the food supply. It sounds like the birds were worth more for the meat than the eggs.

  13. Big Ed

    There is something fishy about this and dozens of other stories I have recently read. Farmers are destroying vegetable crops, killing chickens, cows and pigs and dumping milk onto the ground. I guess I don’t understand. Surely people stopped going to restaurants to eat, but they didn’t stop eating. I used to go out for breakfast every Saturday and Sunday-I don’t do that anymore, but I still have the same stuff at home. The only difference is now my wife cooks the stuff. A few people have died and they clearly don’t need food anymore, but the rest of us still do. So, why the hell has it become necessary for the farmers to destroy food?

    • Vicki Edmondson

      I agree that something is wrong. Why for last month it has been hard to find eggs at grocery store but they are killing the chickens. Why could they have not been killed to eat and furnish more food if they had to go. Why could the milk not been made into ice cream, butter, etc. and frozen. Too many things don’t add up.

  14. Cecil

    With thousands of people standing at food banks waiting for food why not harvest the chickens and give them to the poor?? If they did that they could still claim it as a tax write-off.

  15. Fallingroc

    Americans SHOULD be concerned about what is happening on the farms…the source of our FOOD… Soon, MUCH of our FOOD PRODUCTION WILL BE DECIMATED!!!!! This SHOULD WAKE PEOPLE UP, but I do believe they will only notice it WHEN the SHELVES ARE EMPTY!!!!! The Mass Media SHOULD be running articles like THIS ONE EVERYWHERE, but sadly, we don’t really hear about this… God bless the American FARMERS…God HELP America… Semper Fi

  16. Une

    Then why are there no eggs on the shelves in truth or consequences New Mexico at the Walmart. I have been several times and no eggs

  17. Doris Reed

    Why not drop prices for farm products and sell them rather than just lose them completely. The gov is going to be doing a lot of subsidizing for lost funds to farmers anyway. It seems so wasteful to just kill cause you can’t get a big price for something. All the milk being just dumped!!!! To bad not everyone thinks with their head not their wallet.

  18. DJ

    This is not good, there is so many Homeless people HUNGRY ” WHY ” the farmers can’t donate it ? It is a CRIME to throw out FOOD. OUTRAGES

  19. Ann Marie Heinrich

    I do not understand why the chickens had to be euthanized! Why not just keep them. I think it was cruel to put them down!

  20. Lee

    This is unreal. If people aren’t eating in restaurants then they’re eating at home. I guess the virus didn’t kill enough of us so they’re going to starve us to death. The grocery store shelves are bare. Have been since this shit started.

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