BOZRAH, Conn. (WTNH) — Authorities in Connecticut are still investigating the cause of a massive fire at a chicken farm that killed approximately 100,000 egg-laying hens over the weekend. The fire started in a large chicken coop at Hillandale Farms in Bozrah around 1 p.m. Saturday, prompting a response from dozens of firefighting agencies from the area.
The Connecticut Department of Agriculture confirmed that approximately 100,000 egg-laying hens died in the blaze before it was extinguished Saturday night. Hillandale Farms, headquartered in Pennsylvania, is said to be one of the top five egg producers in the country.
The expected impact on egg prices, however, is believed to be minimal, if it has an impact at all. According to the USDA, as of September 2022, there are more than 372 million egg-laying hens in the United States. “Compared to the number of chickens nationally, and the number of egg-laying hens nationally, it’s not a lot,” said Alyssa McDonnell, a research assistant at the Zwick Center at the University of Connecticut. “It’s a lot smaller than the number that was affected by the avian flu outbreak this past year.”
Still, the loss for the farm may be significant.
“When I heard about the chickens, I was really upset,” said local resident Crystal Kyllo. “That’s a lot of chickens.” Hillandale Farms also confirmed its cooperation into the investigation of the fire, and thanked the responding agencies for extinguishing the blaze. “Our team continues to work closely with the local fire departments and state officials to thoroughly investigate the fire that occurred on Saturday, January 28,” reads a message on the farm’s website. “We can confirm that one chicken house was lost and that no other buildings were compromised. We are deeply grateful that no employees were hurt in the fire.”
According to its own website, Hillandale Farms is one of the country’s top five egg producers, raising over 20 million chickens for eggs. Hendrix ISA, a chick-distribution company, placed Hillandale at No. 3 in 2022, just behind Mississippi-based Cal-Maine Foods and Indiana-based Rose Acre Farms. There are 13 other chicken coops on the Hillandale property. The farm’s operations appeared largely back to normal days after the fire, with tractor-trailer trucks seen coming and going on Monday.