HUNDREDS of thousands of chickens have died in the tidal surge which swamped North Lincolnshire last week.

The flood-wrecked farms on the outskirts of South Ferriby and Winteringham supplied poultry to the 2 Sisters plant in Scunthorpe.

Nick Murray, the spokesman for 2 Sisters, confirmed the number of birds killed had been 700,000.

Mr Murray said: "Our hearts go out to our farmers who faced the full force of last week's tidal surge.

"The sites had to be evacuated quickly and unfortunately several hundred thousands of chickens were lost.

"The clear up operation is now complete. We will help our farmers in any way we can to help them get back to normality and rebuild their livelihoods."

The Scunthorpe chicken processing plant, which was opened 25 years ago on the Foxhills Estate, is the largest slaughter site in the UK.

It employs 1,200 people and each week employees slaughter 1.8 million birds to supply customers like Tesco and KFC.

But the loss of 700,000 chickens will not impact on production at the Foxhills site.
Mr Murray said: "We have a surplus on the ground at this time of the year and more than 800 farms.

"There will be no impact on production. Two being out of action will not really impact us."
Work on rebuilding one of the wrecked farms will continue well into 2014.

The damage to the second site is being assessed in conjunction with the company's insurers.
The two farms have been breeding chickens for 23 years and between them employ six staff.
It is not known whether the employees will retain their jobs during the rebuilding work.

The loss of the 700,000 birds and the two farms is the second major blow so far this year for 2 Sisters which has been one of the biggest employers in North Lincolnshire since 2000.

The company reported a record £33.5 million trading loss for the 2012-13 financial year.

Ranjit Singh, the chief executive officer of the 2 Sisters Food Group, said at the time: "We expect the economic environment to remain tough and we will work with our customers to deliver quality and value to consumers, invest in our brands, in innovation and our people, and improve efficiency."

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