John McKay, CEO of Zeagold Nutrition, has confirmed that a fire broke out at the company’s Waikato egg farm on Monday morning.
“A supervisor on-site at our farm called the fire department at 7:40 am today. All 12 staff members on site are safe and unharmed,” McKay told NZ Herald.
“Ten emergency vehicles are currently on site to contain the spread of the fire.”
McKay said the cause of the fire was unknown and the safety of the chickens was the primary concern.
“The cause of the fire is yet to be determined and investigations will continue.”
“At this stage the focus is on supporting our team and the wellbeing of the remaining hens at Orini.”
“It will take time to rebuild the sheds and restore flock numbers, but I want to assure New Zealanders that we’ll be working hard to continue to supply eggs and get back to full capacity as soon as possible.”
Earlier reports stated that 75,000 chickens were affected. However, Zeagold Nutrition confirmed that the number had been changed.
“We have lost two sheds out of the 12 on site. Engineers and electricians have been on site today to restore power, water and feed to all the remaining sheds,” McKay said.
The Guardian reported:
New Zealand has been in the grip of an egg shortage since the start of the year, when it put an end to battery farming. The ban had been in the works since 2012 and battery hen numbers had dropped over time to make up just 10% of overall egg production – but their final outlawing at the start of January has still been enough to jolt the egg supply chain, leaving supermarket shelves empty, shop owners policing tray purchases and big-breakfast lovers bereft.
The shortage has reached the point of contention: one small-town supermarket banned a cruise ship crew from further egg purchases after they cleared the shelves; newspapers have issued advice columns on egg-free baking and tofu scrambles; and in January, the SPCA released an advisory telling New Zealanders not to engage in kneejerk purchases of back yard poultry, after concerns that a rise in amateur chicken ownership would result in the animals not being properly cared for.
Before the Zeagolds fire, farmers had estimated they needed to raise another 300,000 hens before the shortage abated.
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By Jim Hoft
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