A fowl turn of events: Tens of thousands of Israeli chickens die in heatwave

The current heatwave is estimated to have caused about NIS 20 million in damages in the agriculture sector.

Chicken (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)

Tens of thousands of chickens died in coops in the town of Margaliot in northern Israel and in other coops across the country on Monday due to the hot weather, according to Israeli media.

Kobi Sarmili, a farmer in Margaliot, told 103FM that he checked the birds a number of times and everything was fine until he walked in and found them all dead. "All 500 of my birds had died. This is my only livelihood. I am 61 years old."

"God help [me], I don't have the strength anymore. I'm broke. There was bird flu a year and a half ago and they didn't pay us compensation. I was in the Knesset, they told us, 'You will receive the compensation within a month or two,'" added Sarmili. "I would like to see someone from the Knesset come to the town and see what it looks like. We would rather go to Hezbollah than live in this country."

I don't have the strength anymore. I'm broke

Kobi Sarmili

The Agriculture Ministry stated on Monday that the coops in which deaths were reported did not have modern climate control and cooling systems.

"The sad event of the mortality among egg-laying birds sharpens the urgency of the need to move to modern chicken coops that, among other things, have built-in climate control systems that control the microclimate inside the chicken coop, essentially cutting them off from the weather conditions outside," said the director of the veterinary services at the Agriculture Ministry, Dr. Tamir Goshen. "The need to move to upgraded chicken coops becomes more acute every year in light of global warming. The ministry recently published two support procedures for the upgrade of the chicken coops and the construction of modern complexes in the amount of over NIS 350 million."

 ‘FROM NOW on, please include two chickens with the scraps.’  (credit: YOSSI ALONI/FLASH90)
‘FROM NOW on, please include two chickens with the scraps.’ (credit: YOSSI ALONI/FLASH90)

"The incident is still in progress, but from the data known to us so far, no damage is expected to the supply of eggs or chicken meat," added Goshen.

How to protect chickens

The Agriculture Ministry advised farmers to turn on ventilation and sprinklers early in the morning and to constantly check the birds during the hot hours of the day to ensure they're safe. If these measures don't keep the temperatures down, the ministry advised that farmers should use a hose to lightly dampen the birds.

When suffering from heat stress, egg-laying birds will usually stand with their wings slightly spread and breathe rapidly through an open mouth.

NIS 20 million in damages caused by heatwave

KANAT - Insurance Fund for Natural Risks in Agriculture - stated on Monday that the damages to the agriculture sector caused by the current heatwave stand at about NIS 20 million according to a preliminary evaluation.

The damages are mainly related to mass deaths in chicken coops and heat damage to fruit trees, grape crops, vegetable crops, and cotton plants.