In a disturbing situation, approximately 50,000 chickens were found dying at an egg farm outside of Modesto, Calif. last week.
Officials say the tens of thousands of hens were starving, and had not been fed or given water in about two weeks.
According to the Modesto Bee, about 50,000 chickens were found on property, serving as an egg farm, which was rented by A&L Poultry, which purportedly, shut down operations.
Annette Patton, executive director of the Stanislaus Animal Services Agency said about a third of the chickens died of starvation and dehydration, and many more hens in poor health were to be euthanized. The agency discovered the horrifying conditions after reportedly receiving a complaint about the company.
"We're estimating approximately two weeks that the animals had not been fed," the Modesto Bee reported Patton said, indicating an investigation may conclude in an animal neglect charge.
On Thursday animal rescue groups began to remove some of the neglected chickens. The Modesto Bee published an updated report which shared that some of the chickens were cleared by a veterinarian to go to rescue centers. There is also video footage of workers removing the dead chickens, which will be going to a landfill. Initial testing is said to have shown no signs of disease.
In total, of the 50,000 birds, about 2,000 were able to be saved and sent to two sanctuaries, Harvest Home and Animal Place.
Bill Mattos, president of the California Poultry Federation, an agency helping out with response at the farm, indicated the company allowed the chickens to starve because feed was too expensive.
"We don't encourage people to go into business when they can't raise the animals in a humane way," Mattos said.
Corn prices have been volatile due to the increased demand of corn, which leads to higher costs for farmers.
"Prices for major crops are projected to decline in the near term as global production responds to recent high prices,” according to a recent USDA report (via Agriculture.com) said. “Nonetheless, after near-term price declines, long-term growth in global demand for agricultural products, in combination with the continued presence of U.S. ethanol demand for corn and EU biodiesel demand for vegetable oils, holds prices for corn, oilseeds, and many other crops at historically high levels.”
The owner of the farm is Andrew Keung Chung, who reportedly could not be reached for comment, but is said to be cooperative.
According to Fox News, A & L Poultry sent out a statement which said, “A&L Poultry has been in the process of arranging the shut down of its egg production operations utilizing the industry’s business practices and standards. An attempt to arrange for delivery of the chickens to a third party in order to avoid the usual business practice of euthanizing the chickens resulted in an unacceptable situation A&L Poultry did not intend, and profoundly regrets.”
Compassion in World Farming
Free-range chickens often live at much lower density and are allowed to roam outside on grass.
Facebook users are outraged. Many are posting in response to media postings and the sanctuaries' Facebook pages. Commenters are infuriated at the treatment these chickens received, and has sparked discussions on the web over the ethical treatment of egg-laying chickens who are caged and kept in deplorable conditions.
"We’re thrilled to know they’re going to let us in and save several thousand birds,” said Kimberly Sturla of Animal Place, reported CBS Sacramento. “We’re going to give them another chance at life."