by Christopher Leonard, Bloomberg
The chicken farm on Brewer Road, just south of the small town of Manning in South Carolina, is hidden away down a series of winding country highways, between a patch of forest and an empty farm field. On the morning of Feb. 17 the farm’s owner, a Vietnamese immigrant named Hoangson Nguyen, was awakened by a frantic phone call. Nguyen, who goes by “Sonny,” raises birds under contract for Pilgrim’s Pride, the nation’s second-largest poultry company. An employee who checks the chicken houses each morning was shouting over the phone. Something was terribly wrong.
Nguyen sped to the farm. That morning, when the farmhand opened the door to the first building, a sophisticated warehouse designed to hold about 20,000 birds, a column of steam had billowed out. Nguyen went into the control room and saw that the temperature inside was 122F. He entered the cavernous building. It was like a sauna: The giant circular fans used to cool the chicken house had been switched off. A set of electronic alarms had also been disabled. There were thousands of dead chickens on the ground, pressed up against the walls as if they’d tried to escape. They’d been smothered to death overnight in the intense heat. Nguyen knew immediately that this wasn’t an accident. Someone had killed his flock. Read the entire story.