SA poultry breeder accused of large-scale cruelty

13-08-2009 | |
SA poultry breeder accused of large-scale cruelty

Police in South Africa are investigating a case of animal cruelty against Boskop Layer Chicks, one of the larger breeder farms in the country.

Boskop breeds hens for the layer market and reportedly gets rid of up to 70,000 day-old rooster chicks every week in an extremely cruel way, Beeld newspaper reported on Wednesday (12 August).

According to Kobus van Zyl, a former employee of the farm, the rooster chicks are thrown in a field and in an empty cement dam on the farm to die. Some of the chicks take up to five days to die. Some are smothered under the weight of the others, while most die of exposure as they don’t have any food or water. This had been going on for the past 70 years – as long as the farm has been in business, reports state.

Van Zyl made video recordings of the ‘culling’ over a period of time, and gave the footage to the local TV programme Carte Blanche, who then informed the national council of animal welfare societies NSPCA about the alleged cruelty.

The NSPCA obtained a court warrant to gain access to the farm and found at least 10 trays containing about 30,000 rooster chicks. Some were half-smothered, while others had not even completely hatched yet.

Boskop Layer Chicks in Potchefstroom is a well-known family business, belonging to Jan Serfontein, former head of the provincial department for agriculture, conservation and environmental affairs in the North West province. According to a NSPCA statement, its inspectors confronted Serfontein about not having the correct equipment to get rid of the rooster chicks. “The owner was surprised that we were shocked by the situation.”

Serfonteins legal representative stated the Serfonteins were being unfairly implicated in the case. They have always been concerned about the well-being of their animals, and deny being guilty of any cruelty, he said.
However, Van Zyl told Beeld he decided to expose the truth, because the ‘rubbish’ which has built up on the farm over almost seven decades has caused serious pollution of the Mooi River.

Kevin Lovell, chief official of SA Poultry, the body which represents the poultry industry, said they are aware of the case and are currently investigating the matter.

Natalie Berkhout Freelance journalist