Law enforcement authorities said the vandals have struck over a two-week period. Losses were estimated between $1.2 million and $1.7 million.
The company said the affected family farms are under contract to grow chickens on behalf of Pilgrim's. The birds are delivered to the company's prepared-foods facility in Sumter, SC. Pilgrim's said the Sumter facility is a critical part of the economic viability of the local community, employing more than 1,600 individuals. Pilgrim's also partners with more than 90 local growers and pays more than $24 million in annual grower payments. The company plans to deliver new chicken flocks to affected growers in the coming days to help cover losses.
"Pilgrim's was recently made aware of several unfortunate and deliberate acts of vandalism at the operations of some of our contract-grower partners in Clarendon County, SC," said Randy Stroud, live operations manager. "These heinous acts resulted in a cruel death for several-thousand chickens that were under the care of dedicated family farmers. These are not factory farms — they are family farms operated by good men and women who work hard each day to provide humane care and safe living conditions for their birds."
Anyone with information about the incidents or the identity or whereabouts of the perpetrators should contact the Clarendon County Sheriff's Office at (803) 435-4414. The company asks that tipsters contact law enforcement directly and not take independent action to apprehend the perpetrators.