Report: Michigan barn fires claimed lives of 253K animals in 2019

State lost most animals to barn fires

Six calves were killed in this barn fire in Scio Township on Nov. 26, 2019, officials said.
Six calves were killed in this barn fire in Scio Township on Nov. 26, 2019, officials said. (WDIV)

DETROIT – A report released Friday shows that Michigan had the most animals die in barn fires in 2019.

According to the Animal Welfare Institute’s report, more than half of the 469,000 farm animals that died in barn fires this year perished in Michigan.

Fourteen fires claimed the lives of 253,000 animals in the state. North Carolina had the second highest number of animals killed -- 42,500 in five fires, followed by 42,000 deaths in 14 fires in Pennsylvania.

The country’s deadliest fire happened April 30 in Michigan’s Ionia County. The cause of a fire that killed 250,000 hens at Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch is unknown.

The report notes that the number of animals killed could actually be higher because municipalities are not generally required to report barn fires, and some companies decline to release the information to the public. Information for the report was gathered from media reports.

The report shows that 98 percent of animals killed in barn fires were birds, typically chickens being raised for meat and hens being used for eggs, and all of five of the country’s deadliest barn fires involved birds.

The number of animals killed in barn fires in 2019 jumped drastically from 2018, the report shows. More than 150,000 farm animals died in 148 fires across the country last year.

According to the AWI, there aren’t laws in place that protect animals from barn fires. The organization has been pushing for poultry trade associations to require that all producers comply with the “Fire and Life Safety in Animal Housing Facilities Code" from the National Fire Protection Association.

Deadliest barn fires in 2019:

• April 30: 250,000 hens at Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch in Ionia County, MI -- cause unknown.

• April 2: 37,000 hens at A & L Farms in Upper Bern, PA -- cause reported as faulty ventilation fan component.

• June 7: 25,000 meat chickens at a Wayne Farms contract farm in Goshen, AL -- cause reported as arson.

• April 5: 22,000 meat chickens at a Tyson Foods contract farm in Tecumseh, NE -- cause reported as arson.

• June 4: 22,000 hens at a farm in Winston County, MS -- cause unknown.

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