Over a Million Robertson Co. Chickens Killed to Contain Poultry Virus

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Chicken farm after chicken farm in the Robertson County community of Hammond is being quarantined and everything on the farm, disinfected.

The chickens are gone. They were killed, after some of the Sanderson Farms birds tested positive for poultry virus laryngotracheitis.

County officials said over a million birds were destroyed; 10 families' livelihoods were interrupted.

However, those farms aren't the only ones with empty pens. The Fowler kids' 66 show chickens were also euthanized.

"I think it was today we were actually going to be showing them," said Jake Fowler.

They live a few miles north of the affected chicken houses.

"We had actually taken some birds to a friend for processing," said Sheila Fowler, Jake's mother. "She lives down the road from the Sanderson farm that outbroke."

Officials believe the virus may have traveled on a vehicle. Now the chickens and turkeys the Fowler kids worked so hard on, are gone.

"Every morning I was getting up at 6:15, had to go out there and change the water, feed 'em," said Jake Fowler.

The fowlers were scheduled to be in Houston this week. They've been showing at the Houston Livestock Show for years.

"Ever since 3rd grade," said Jake Fowler.

This would have been senior Jake Fowler's last year to show. He's made the top 20 the last 3 years. Missing this year's sale means missing out on on a yearly tradition, and some serious cash for his college fund.

"Well chickens, grand champions brings $30,000," said Sheila Fowler. "Reserve is $15,000 and if you're in the top 10, its $4,000."

"For him to be a senior and mainly for him to not get to show, was very sad," said Sheila Fowler.

While Jake showed his last bird, his younger siblings can try again next year.

As for the farms, after they're disinfected, it will be another three weeks before Texas Animal Health Commission clears them to start raising chickens again.

State officials said the virus does not affect the chicken meat, and that most of the birds had already been processed.