The brutal heat wave that has gripped the country’s midsection is causing unusual bird losses and reducing liveweights on growout farms, especially in the upper Midwest, a region unaccustomed to the triple-digit temperatures that used to cause extensive losses in the South. Turkey and egg production is also being hit by the heat.

“A total of nearly 100,000 broilers have been reported lost to the heat on numerous grow-out farms across the affected region,” the USDA Poultry Market News Service reported.  “The true extent of losses may not be known for several days as reports continue to come in.  Particularly hard hit were grow-out facilities in the North where extreme and prolonged temperatures are less common and existing ventilation systems have a difficult time maintaining an ambient environment for the birds.”

The heat has also caused birds to reduce their feed intake, reducing the rate of gain and resulting in lower average live weights at the plant, USDA said.  Plants throughout the affected region are reporting an increase in the number of birds dead on arrival and are responding by adjusting their processing schedules to reduce the amount of time the birds spend on the trucks.

Across the Midwestern Corn Belt, excessive temperatures and limited rainfall are threatening to reduce corn yields, Poultry Market News added,  since corn in many areas is entering the silk stage, leaving the plant vulnerable to intense heat.  “However, as the heat pushes east, relief is following behind in the form of scattered rain showers and more moderate summer temperatures,” the agency added.  Severe thunderstorms are forecast for today in parts of the upper Midwest.