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With the expected slaughter of 2 million chickens on Delmarva due to staffing shortages at the poultry processing plants resulting from the coronavirus the prospects for chicken growers is uncertain. Virgil Shockley, a Worcester County farmer and chicken grower, says if the current pandemic continues it could spell serious financial trouble for region and the state.

Compassion Over Killing

A video has surfaced of Tyson Foods contractor hitting and killing chickens at a facility in Accomack County.

Tyson officials immediately responded to the video provided by the animal rights group Compassion Over Killing terminating their contract with the farmer.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that two Tyson officials responded in an email saying they were outraged by the actions of the contractor and would not be tolerated.

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SALISBURY, Md. (AP) - A major poultry provider with headquarters in Maryland says it's stepping up efforts to improve its chickens' lives.

The Baltimore Sun reports Salisbury-based Perdue Farms released the first annual report on Monday about plans it announced in June 2016 changing how chickens are raised and slaughtered. The report says progress was made including alteration of breeding methods that promoted faster growth but also injury.

The company also said stunning systems that minimize stress would be installed for birds headed to processing.

Don Rush

Commercial poultry operations will no longer be allowed in residential or general business zoning districts in Accomack County.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to bar the practice.

Such operations had been allow in those areas after getting a special use permit.

The planning department asked the board to act after an application to build four poultry houses on over 200-acres in Horntown located near a residential area.

Concern over the rise in the number of chicken houses has grown over the years.

Allen Harim Foods Website

Allen Harim will be building a new 70-thousand square foot hatchery in Dagsboro which will then replace two other facilities.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that the company says this will allow it to move away from the use of antibiotics.

Joe Moran, president and CEO of the company, said that this would make the facility the most technologically advanced on the peninsula.

It will be located on nearly 20-acres along Nine Foot Road.

One facility in Seaford and another in Dagsboro will then be closed.

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SMYRNA, Del. (AP) - Delaware State Police say a tractor trailer overturned during a crash, spilling chickens onto state Route 1 in Smyrna.

Police said in a statement that two tractor trailers collided early Wednesday in southbound lanes and one overturned. Police say the drivers were not injured, but the chicken trailer spilled its load of chickens.

The roadway was blocked for hours into the morning rush as crews cleared away the overturned trailer and chickens.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - An environmental sciences professor says eating less meat can help the Chesapeake Bay.

James Galloway of the University of Virginia tells the Daily Press that farm animal waste is a big part of the nitrogen runoff that depletes oxygen in the bay.

Galloway says eating one-third less meat from cows, pigs and chickens in the watershed could make the difference. He says Americans typically consume 30 percent more protein than they need. 

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SALISBURY, Md. (AP) - Perdue Foods is says it's renewing its focus on care for its chickens.

The Salisbury-based firm announced a plan Monday that focuses on animals' wants and needs, including a commitment to install windows in chicken houses to compare birds' health and activity to enclosed housing.

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There will be no moratorium on large chicken houses in Wicomico County.

Council president John Cannon told a meeting last night, that the council does not have enough information to impose one. 

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The increasing number of factory chicken houses brought out around fifty people to a town hall meeting in Somerset County this week.

It was aimed at drumming up support for local regulations that would ensure neighbors and agricultural workers are not negatively impacted by these large operations.

Organizers said there have been some 70 new poultry houses that have been given permits in the county.

Kathy Phillips with the Assateague Coastkeeper told the gathering that poultry production has moved away from mom-and-pop operations.

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NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - Norfolk health officials say Eastern Equine Encephalitis has been detected in a group of chickens.

The Norfolk Department of Public Health tells media outlets that a sample taken from the chickens on July 13 tested positive for the disease.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis typically is transmitted by mosquitoes. The department says human cases are rare.

Crews planned to fog the area where the disease was detected on Thursday.

Mercy for Animals Video

A video released by Mercy for Animals last week allegedly showing animal abuse at a chicken farm in Sussex County has been called a “hatchet job” by Delaware top agriculture official.

Secretary Ed Kee told WBOC that he does not believe that the video reflects poultry production practices.

He said in his statement to the television station that those working the farm are “great stewards”.

Kee went on to say that poultry is raised in a humane way in the First State.

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The avian flu has hit the poultry industry with a vengeance leaving 48 million chickens and turkey dead since last December.

The U.S. Agriculture Department has been moving quickly to round of the birds as quickly as possible and killing them before it spreads.

In the Mid-West the pandemic appears to have slowed.

But during a senate committee hearing yesterday on Capitol Hill Delaware Democrat Tom Carper warned of becoming too complacent.

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BALTIMORE (AP) - Agriculture officials and poultry farmers in Maryland are taking extra precautions against bird flu after outbreaks devastated flocks in other states.
The Baltimore Sun reports the Maryland Department of Agriculture has banned the entry of waterfowl in fairs and shows in the state, stepped up testing requirements for poultry and met with emergency-management officials to prepare in case of an outbreak.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Broiler chickens and soybeans are Virginia's biggest agricultural products.

The most recent Census of Agriculture, for 2012, shows broiler chickens topped commodity sales that year. Growers sold about $638 million worth of broiler hens. Soybeans were the top crop with more than $300 million in sales.

Total agricultural product sales exceeded $3.7 billion.

The census also shows there are more than 46,000 farms in Virginia, covering more than 8.3 million acres.

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Salisbury may soon allow bed and breakfasts to operate in the Historic Newtown Community.

The City Council took up the idea last night during its works session and recently got the attention of city leaders during a Newtown Association dinner last October.

Supporters say that a bed and breakfast could be better for the neighborhood -- especially in dealing with abandoned and foreclosed homes as well as the problem of single-family homes conversions into rental properties.  

Council President Jake Day says he believes they could really benefit the community.


Joshua Shelton accused of killing 70-thousand chickens last summer is getting his day court today.

A jury trial is scheduled in the Wicomico Circuit Court.

The 21 year old Shelton is accused of fourth-degree burglary including malicious destruction of property, trespass and animal cruelty.

The owner of the chicken houses in Delmar Mark Shockley checked on the birds on the night of August 24th.

The charging documents say that the following morning they were dead. 

Shelton allegedly was found lying in a shed where the circuit breakers were located.


A Delmar farmer is now facing criminal charges after the deaths of nearly 70-thousand chickens.

21-year old Joshua Shelton allegedly shut off the power to three chicken houses.

Lt. Tim Robinson with the Wicomico County Sheriff’s department told the Salisbury Daily Times that it is believed that he may have been searching for a light switch.

The chickens belonged to Mark Shockley and are reported to have been valued at around $20-thousand.

The charging documents say only around 100 chickens remained.