A poultry farmer in Auckland, New Zealand, has been jailed for one year after keeping chickens in filthy, stressful conditions and selling their unsafe eggs and meat to local retailers.
Gerard Francis Van Den Bogaart, who traded as Golden Harvest Poultry, was sentenced in Papakura District Court after earlier pleading guilty to two charges under the Animal Welfare Act charges and four under the Animal Products Act.
Following suspicion that Van Den Bogaart was illegally slaughtering poultry and selling meat and eggs to Auckland retailers, police, along with investigators from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) and local council officers executed search warrants on two rural South Auckland properties he operated in June 2008.
They found chickens were being kept in "filthy and inhumane conditions", NZFSA director of compliance and investigation Geoff Allen said. The unsanitary conditions were putting consumers at risk due to the presence of harmful bacteria, he said.
Van Den Bogaart had failed to comply with an earlier notice of direction from the NZFSA to cease the sale of poultry and eggs and the slaughter of poultry in 2007.
More than 100,000 eggs were seized and destroyed and 5000 laying hens were relocated from the properties.
More than 1100, mainly broiler chickens, were euthanised to alleviate their suffering, and another 4000 hens, broiler chickens and ducks were euthanised because they could not be relocated.
Van Den Bogaart is sentenced to one year in prison for the wilful ill-treatment of animals in his care and for two months concurrently for failing to provide for their physical, health and behavioural needs. He was sentenced to a further six months to be served concurrently for selling non-compliant animal products, and was convicted and discharged on two lesser Animal Products Act charges. He was also ordered to pay almost $10,000 in relation to the costs incurred by the authorities during the operation and disqualified from keeping broiler hens for 10 years.
The Poultry Industry Association and the Egg Producers' Federation welcomed the sentence and said it reflected the severity of Van Den Bogaart's offending.