Calls for investigation into animal abuse at chicken farm

Summary

Undercover footage released by an animal rights organisation shows violent treatment of newborn chicks at a chicken factory in Tielt

‘Symptomatic of the whole sector’

Flemish animal welfare minister Ben Weyts has asked the ministry’s inspectors to investigate claims that a chicken factory in Tielt has been abusing newborn chicks. The revelations were made by the activist group Animal Rights, who have previously released undercover video of malpractice at a pig slaughterhouse, also in Tielt.

The images show how newborn chicks are selected the minute they hatch. Those considered unsuitable – too small or showing clear signs of abnormalities – immediately have their necks broken by hand. On other selection lines, the chicks are drowned in a bucket of water or simply thrown into waste bins.

The factory produces chickens for poultry production facilities, which then raise them for sale. Animal Rights also released video from two other facilities, in Antwerp province and in West Flanders, which show newborn chicks being fed a protein-rich diet for six weeks before being slaughtered.

“The chickens can hardly stand up, and have the greatest difficulty walking,” Animal Rights spokesperson said. “They are suffering stress because normal chicken behaviour, such as rooting around and dust-bathing, is impossible.”

Animal Rights said the problem was not limited to the one company shown in the video but occurs throughout the whole sector. “Practices such as those seen in the images are not exceptional,” campaign co-ordinator Benoit van den Broeck said. “Flanders is full of hatcheries and poultry factories where such things are commonplace.”

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