Welfare of Male Layer Chicks Hits Headlines

SOUTH AFRICA - A former employee at one of the country's leading egg producers has informed animal rights groups about the slaughter of male 'layer' chicks.
calendar icon 12 August 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

Animal rights groups are up in arms over a former agricultural MEC and his son who are allegedly involved in dodgy chick killing practices on one of the biggest chicken farms in the country, according to IOL.

Beeld newspaper reported yesterday that up to 70 000 male birds were dumped in an empty farm dam every week and left to die, because they were "economically worthless".

According to a former Boskop Layer Chicks employee, Kobus van Zyl, this has been going on for the past 70 years, as long as the North West chicken farm, owned by Jan Serfontein and his son, Jan, has existed.

If 70,000 chicks were indeed killed every week for the past 70 years, that calculates into more than 254 million chicks.

Mr Van Zyl said sometimes it would take up to five days for the chicks to die, mainly of starvation or suffocation.

He made videos of the practice, which he has now handed over to the television current affairs show 'Carte Blanche'.

"The chicks are a by-product of a very profitable business and the Serfonteins did not know what to do with them," said Mr Van Zyl. He decided to expose them because of the "mess" that had been made on the farm, causing serious environmental pollution. The male chicks were useless to the farmers because they could not lay eggs.

Boskop Layer Chicks in Potchefstroom – one of the three biggest chicken farms in the country – breeds hens for the egg industry.

The Serfonteins' lawyer, George Gibbens, said they had no choice but to get rid of the chicks.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals spokeswoman, Christine Kuch, said when the animal welfare group visited the farm, the Serfonteins seemed surprised.

"The owner was surprised that we were so shocked about the situation," she said.

Normally, it is acceptable to gas chicks to death, Beeld reported.

The SA Poultry Organisation is also investigating the matter.

IOL adds that Mr Serfontein senior is the former MEC for agriculture, conservation and environment in the North West province.

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