A heat wave that has pushed temperatures close to 40 degrees Celsius (+ 100 F) has killed tens of thousands of turkeys and chickens in Kansas and North Carolina and left farmers across the lower part of the country struggling to cool off their flocks. One farm in Kansas even lost 4,300 turkeys.
In North Carolina, about 50,000 chickens died at a farm after the power went off for less than an hour. In Kansas, 4,300 turkeys were lost on one farm. "It felt like a war zone. It felt like hell," turkey grower Holly Capron said.
The heat wave started over the weekend and has been spreading east. Four of the nation's top turkey-producing states - Arkansas, Missouri, North Carolina and Virginia - were under a heat advisory. Arkansas and North Carolina are also leading chicken producers.
Temperatures in Kansas on Sunday reached 110 degrees, with a heat index of 118. It was 106 in the buildings near Columbus where Capron raises 22,000 turkeys. She said they've been running big fans and fog nozzles in their poultry buildings, and they've had a tractor pulling a spray wagon to water down the birds.
The Kansas Department of Agriculture's Division of Animal Health confirmed that heat, not disease, caused the deaths. In North Carolina, the heat wave killed about 50,000 broiler chickens at a farm when the power went out for about 45 minutes.
Farmers in the Carolinas outfit their poultry houses with cooling systems that use fans to push mists of water over the birds or pull air through the sheds at high speed like an air tunnel.