Widespread damage and destruction has hit Alabama’s agriculture infrastructure with preliminary assessments indicating extensive damage to the state’s multi-billion-dollar poultry industry.

“We have deployed our field inspectors to the hard hit areas of North Alabama to assist state emergency management efforts,” said Commissioner John McMillan of the Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries.

North Alabama poultry producers and meat processors suffered significant damage, according to McMillan, adding that some 200 poultry houses were destroyed by the tornados and another 180 damaged. A standard poultry house can hold an average of 20,000 chickens.

“Thousands of chickens have been lost in the tornados, and these numbers could grow as we continue to assess the damage,” McMillan said. “Power outages and loss of drinking water could worsen an already critical situation for poultry producers and meat processors.”

A state veterinarian is investigating reports of injured livestock in Franklin County, the commissioner said. No other details are available at this time.