SOUTH FORK, CAMBRIA COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Many industries have been affected by the coronavirus and the poultry industry is one of them. The industry has seen huge spikes in sales that could come with a decline in supply, but one poultry farmer says local farms are thriving.
“We are surprised at the number of people that are ordering birds,” says Andy Myers, owner of Myers Poultry Farm in South Fork. “Our sales have increased I’d say double in the month of April just due to farmers that may have raised birds in the past that had them for a few years that are now getting back into it.”
He says they have seen increases in order sizes and also new customers.
“So a person that may have ordered a thousand birds throughout the year may be increasing to 3,000 birds.”
When we visited the farm, they were getting ready to ship out 48,000 Cornish Broiler chicks for the week, a number that would be normal for June or July, but not April or May.
Myers says that could be because people are looking for something new to do.
“Because everyobody’s at home, they’re trying to do something with their family together rather than what they did in a rush rush style living.”
With the increase in orders, he says they’ve had to bring in more workers.
“In the early part of April we were really overwhelmed with the orders that came in to our online site and calls. We would have people in the office and at the end of the day still have 75-100 messages on our phone because people are calling for birds.”
Myers says local poultry farms are doing well.
“The challenge is in the bigger industry as a whole because there processing plants are shut down so they can’t get their meat to market.”
An expert at Penn State says there are issues on the larger market side, but that things are getting better.
“Chicks are moving, feed is being manufactured, chicks are placed on farms, processing plants are working and now they have better procedures in the plants. I think these partial plants running at 60% will improve in time,” says Paul Patterson, Professor of Poultry Science and a Poultry Specialist at Penn State.
To help with that, Patterson has advice for folks when shopping at the grocery store.
“If there’s no hoarding of meat or eggs that’s helpful to keep the pipeline in its normal flow. Just buy the proper amounts that you need.”
Even with the increased orders, Myers says local farms could run into a supply problem down the road.
“As long as we can supply, then we’ll supply but if we run out of inventory then it’s not going to happen.”
He assures folks that they are doing everything the governor is asking.
“We go above and beyond to maintain the safety of our employees as well as the quality and safety of the birds that we provide our customers.”