A fire at a chicken farm in Orini has killed 50,000 egg-laying hens.
Zeagold Nutrition chief executive John McKay confirmed there was a fire at its egg-laying farm in Waikato.
“A supervisor on-site at our farm called the fire department at 7.40am today. All 12 staff members on site are safe and unharmed,” McKay said earlier today.
“Ten emergency vehicles are currently on site to contain the spread of the fire.”
McKay said the cause of the fire had not been determined and the focus was on the welfare of their hens.
McKay confirmed about 1pm that the fire had been contained.
“We’re pleased to report the fire has been contained, with Fire and Emergency NZ remaining on site to monitor any hot spots. At this stage, we still have to assess the full extent of the damage, but it was not as extensive as initially reported, with only two sheds affected.”
Initially, McKay said it had involved four sheds and had killed 75,000 hens. He later said 50,000 chickens died.
This evening he said “we have a specialist avian vet at Orini currently assessing and caring for the birds in the remaining sheds.
“His initial report is that the birds seem to be in good health. They will continue to be closely monitored in the coming days.
“It’s expected the onsite packing facility will be operational from this evening to ensure all the eggs unaffected by the fire can be packed and delivered to customers.”
It would take time to rebuild the sheds and restore flock numbers. In the meantime, the business would be “working hard to continue to supply eggs and get back to full capacity as soon as possible”.
“I know New Zealanders will be worried about what this means when eggs are in short supply. The reality is the losses at Orini, represent only 1.4 percent of the layer hen population nationally so while it’s a tragic loss it won’t have a significant impact on egg supply.”
A Fire and Emergency New Zealand (Fenz) spokesman said they received a report about 7.45am this morning of a fire at the farm on Old Rd.
“When we arrived the shed was well-involved with fire. We sent five fire trucks and three water tankers.”
There have been no injuries reported and a fire investigator was at the scene.
Last month, New Zealand supermarket chains told customers to only buy what they need over the coming weeks, as a national shortage of eggs continues.
Those popping into local supermarkets have noticed a distinct lack of packaged eggs on the shelves and, in some cases, stores have gone completely without.
Egg Producers Federation executive director Michael Brooks said more than 75 per cent of chicken farmers were impacted due to a ban on battery-caged hens.
The ban was announced in 2012, when 84 per cent of all the country’s eggs were from battery farms.
The rules came into effect at the turn of 2023.
“The supermarkets’ announcement to refuse colony cage eggs, the end of the cage system, plus Covid, plus the grain cost rising because of the Ukraine war have all come together,” Brooks said.
Foodstuffs’ Emma Wooster echoed the federation’s reasoning behind the egg shortage.
The Foodstuffs brand oversees major supermarket brands Pak’nSave and New World. Wooster agreed the 2012 legislation has seen a “temporary decrease” in overall egg supply.
“It’s a significant change for the egg supply industry.
“To help support the transition and to make sure customers get a fair shake when they shop, Foodstuffs have put temporary limits on eggs.”