Thousands of pigs die in Oklahoma wildfires at Smithfield Foods hog farm

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 10, 2017 1:00 PM

(Reuters) - Wildfires devastated a Smithfield Foods Inc [SFII.UL] hog farm in Laverne, Oklahoma, killing an uncertain but potentially huge number of pigs, company and local officials said on Friday.

"Several thousands were lost," said Luke Kanclerz, spokesman for the Oklahoma Forestry Services. "Such a large area was impacted by these fires, it's taking time to collect information ... there are no accurate numbers yet."

Firefighters on Friday were still working to contain some of the grass fires that grew rapidly on Monday due to dry weather and parched prairie land in Texas, north and western Oklahoma and southern Kansas, burning nearly 2 million acres, killing six people and hundreds of cattle.

The Smithfield farm housed about 45,000 sows, according to the company website.

"While we are deeply thankful that no employees were harmed in the fire, we lament the unnecessary loss of animals and the devastation to the surrounding community," Smithfield spokeswoman Kathleen Kirkham said in a statement.

Kirkham did not respond to a request for an estimate on how many sows at the farm had died.

Smithfield, the world's largest pork producer, says it produces about 16 million hogs per year. The company is a subsidiary of WH Group Ltd.

(Reporting by Michael Hirtzer in Chicago; Editing by Tom Brown)