Barn Fire Devastates Springfield's Cavendish Game Birds | Bite Club
Pin It
Favorite

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Barn Fire Devastates Springfield's Cavendish Game Birds

Posted By on Thu, Mar 14, 2013 at 12:09 PM

A quick-moving, early-morning barn fire at Springfield's Cavendish Game Birds has killed 20,000 quail and 30 pigs.

Co-owner Rick Thompson says he was awakened about 5:30 a.m. Wednesday by an alarm indicating a power failure in the hatchery. When he opened the door of the barn to investigate, "There wasn't sound so much as smoke," he says. "Shortly after I got out, the barn just went."

Though the barn — one of three — and silo burned to the ground in an hour, Thompson reckons that it was thick smoke that killed most of the animals, which represented about half of Cavendish's stock and all of its breeding birds.

Several surrounding fire departments responded to the fire, and its cause is still unknown. Thompson says there was propane heat in the barn to keep the animals warm, as well as some shavings on the second floor of the barn that may have exacerbated the flames.

Thompson and his brother, Bill, are lifelong poultry farmers, and it was Bill Thompson who began seriously farming and selling quail from his backyard more than 20 years ago. In 1988, the brothers bought the 75-acre farm that became home to Cavendish Game Farms; they supply thousands of Coturnix quail and their eggs each year to restaurants, food service operators and distributors throughout the Northeast, incuding Black River Produce. The farm's birds have been ubiquitous on Vermont restaurant menus. 

The Berkshire pigs that died in the fire represented a new venture for the company, says Rick Thompson. "Maybe it was a mid-life crisis. We'd been in the bird and quail business for so long that we planned on starting a pasture pork operation to try new things." 

The farm has about a month's supply of birds left, he adds, after which the Thompsons will shut down production to concentrate on rebuilding their breeding stock, egg operation and a new barn. They may be selling birds again by late summer.

"One of the hardest things for us is going to be the down time. We have 15 employees, including my brother and myself," says Thompson. "They're all talented and experienced, and we're hoping we can take care of them as much as possible." 

For now, the staff is concentrating on giving its lost quail and pigs a respectful burial. "We'll gather the animals together and bury them," Thompson says.

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

Pin It
Favorite

About The Author

Corin Hirsch

Corin Hirsch

Bio:
Food writer Corin Hirsch joined the Seven Days staff in 2011. She is the author of Forgotten Drinks of Colonial New England, published by History Press in 2014.

More by Corin Hirsch

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Keep commenting classy! Read our guidelines...

Note: Comments are limited to 300 words.

Latest in Bite Club

Social Club

Like Seven Days contests and events? Join the club!

See an example of this newsletter...

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative
newsletters:

All content © 2017 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401
Website powered by Foundation