Environmental specialists with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources are assisting an egg production facility in Hancock County that has experienced a collapse of cages within one of its buildings and the potential for the death of a number of the chickens.
The D.N.R. says the building currently houses approximately 300,00 hens. The problem occurred when a row of cages collapsed within the six-row building at Hawkeye Pride Egg Farms near Corwith earlier this week.
Since that time, the company has been trying to determine how to safely be able to start a clean-up effort because of the potential for collapse of other cages still in the building.
D.N.R. spokesman Eric Wickland told Radio Iowa they were notified Wednesday about the problem at Hawkeye Pride Egg Farms.
He says the cages collapsed sometime earlier this week and that has made the inside of the building very unsafe and they are trying to figure out how to shore up the cages to get people in to deal with the animals.
Wickland says the D.N.R. was called because of the large number of animals involved. Wickland says there’s the possibility that a large number of animals could die, as there are 300,000 birds in the facility. He says the company contacted the D.N.R. because it would be hard to get rid of the birds through normal means, so they wanted information on how to handle them through composting or some other process.
Wickland doesn’t know how many birds may’ve died in the collapse. He says there are not other environmental issues at the site that they are worried about. Wickland says it is “a pretty advanced facility” where the manure is taken out on belts, and he says the birds are new and have only been in the facility for around 10 days.
Wickland says the company that built the cages has been on site trying to figure out what happened and he says they have not heard anything on a cause. Work is centering now on stabilizing the building so that workers can get inside and remove any dead animals and take care of those that are alive.