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Activists say new video suggests widespread mistreatment of chickens at Fraser Valley farms
Published Wednesday, June 27, 2018 6:55PM PDT
Warning: Details in this article and the attached video are disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.
In the days following a CTV News investigation into the treatment of chickens at farms in B.C.'s Fraser Valley, some say newly obtained video suggests animal abuse may be widespread.
Disturbing footage captured by rights activists at Animal Justice shows what they say is an industry-wide problem.
According to those behind the video, the chickens seen on camera were no longer useful for producing eggs, so they were being taken to a processing facility. The group said the birds would then be turned into low-grade nuggets and pet food.
Video shows workers handling the hens. Some are seen holding them by one limb then tossing them into containers.
"This, we know, results in broken bones and dislocated joints," Animal Justice's Anna Pippus told CTV Wednesday.
She said in the group's experience, it's a problem not isolated to the farm where the video was recorded.
"The way that animals are treated leads to distress for the animals," she said.
The men in the video are wearing shirts with a logo for Elite Farm Services Ltd., a Chilliwack-based company that made headlines last year when video shot by another activist group showed employees stomping on some live birds and ripping others apart.
Six employees were fired and the BC SPCA recommended charges, but more than a year later, the Crown said the file is still being assessed.
The SPCA is also looking into Elite after viewing video activists shared with CTV and PETA showing chickens buried up to their necks in manure at a farm in Abbotsford. Officials have not said what role they suspect Elite played in that case, saying only that there was a link.
The farm, Jaedel Enterprises, is also under investigations by both industry officials and the SPCA.
Animal cruelty officers searched Elite's offices this week after seeing the video from Jaedel.
CTV reached out to the chicken catching company earlier this week, both by phone and in person. A spokesperson emailed a statement on Wednesday, saying: "Elite Services follows all animal welfare guidelines according to industry standards, and we understand the importance of ensuring proper care and handling of animals.
"Regarding recent news reports involving various farms in April 2018, to our knowledge, there has been no wrongdoing on the part of Elite Services or its employees."
The company said it has co-operated fully with authorities investigating the footage "by providing requested documentation including its standard operating procedures and employee orientation."
In addition to the issues seen at Jaedel, activists sent CTV video they say was taken at two other farms in the area. Both live and dead birds were seen buried in manure piles, and side-by-side in small cages.
Pippus said she feels the problem is the industry is regulating itself.
"This means they're creating their own standards, and they're the ones that are enforcing them. I think it's pretty clear from all the footage that we've seen that this is just not working," she said.
Animal Justice is calling on the provincial government to step in and create stricter guidelines and penalties for the egg industry.
It's a message the SPCA agrees with. On Tuesday, chief prevention and enforcement officer Marcie Moriarty said the existing code of practice should be made law, as a similar code was for the dairy industry following another video exposé.
Under the current system, farms are audited about four times a year by industry officials from the federal and provincial levels, as well as by third parties. Farms found in violation of Canada's codes of practice can be given corrective actions which must be completed within a set timeframe or they risk losing their licence.