Sell 30,000 eggs or euthanize your chickens: farmers facing tough choices during COVID-19 pandemic


Disruptions to the food supply chain have created difficult decisions for producers across the county, and The Morning Call reported on just one of those stories.

Josh Zimmerman must sell at least 30,000 eggs per day or else he will have to euthanize half of the 80,000 egg-laying hens he cares for at his family-owned farm.

The flock produces 60,000 eggs per day, which are then purchased by a food processing company that turns them into cartons of liquid for restaurants and hotels. With the COVID-19 outbreak forcing restaurants and hospitality businesses to close, the company Zimmerman sells to can’t buy as many eggs.

Zimmerman pays $15,000 per week to keep the birds fed, and he told The Morning Call he can lose up to $31,000 in a week’s time if he is not selling enough eggs while keeping his flock at the same size.

For now, his flock is safe from humane euthanasia by getting creative with how to sell enough eggs, but that could soon change.

This is not a problem unique to any one farmer. Nearly 2 million chickens at farms in Maryland and Delaware will be destroyed instead of processed for meat because of a worker shortage.

Zimmerman is planning on the disruption continuing through the fall, which means Zimmerman may have to make the difficult decision to eliminate some of his flock.