The South African poultry breeder Jan Serfontein (a former provincial agriculture minister) denies the animal cruelty claims laid against him. Boskop Layer Farm in Potchefstroom was accused of killing 70,000 rooster chicks every week by throwing them in an empty dam and leaving them there to die.
“The whole story about the dumping of the chicks was staged by a disgruntled employee,” George Gibbens, Serfonteins lawyer, told the South African press agency Sapa. Gibbens states that the Boskop farm used to gas the chicks to death. The carcasses were disposed to lion farmers as food for the lions.
According to Gibbens, the National Society for the Prevention of Animal Cruelty (NSPCA) took footage of the chicks in an empty dam while their officials knew the chicks would be fed into a high-speed grinder the following day. Macerating is a legal way to cull male chicks.
Gibbens said his clients had invited the NSPCA to witness the maceration, but they arrived at the farm a day before it was scheduled to take place, and Serfontein allowed them onto the premises.
Del Jones, the manager of the farm animal unit at the NSPCA, said Serfontein needed to prove that they gassed the birds. “Yes, he had invited us… but the bottom line is the macerator was only brought in after we had been there,” said Jones. The NSPCA has laid 9 charges of animal cruelty under the Animal Protection Act.
Last week, it was reported (S. African poultry beeeder accused of large-scale animal cruelty) that up to 70,000 male chicks were dumped in an empty farm dam to starve or suffocate to death every week, because they were ‘economically worthless’. The practice was brought to light by a former Boskop Layer Chicks employee, Kobus van Zyl. He said this had been going on for the past 70 years, as long as the farm had existed. Van Zyl made video recordings of the dying rooster chicks over a period of time, and passed the footage on to a local current affairs TV programme, Carte Blanche. A report on the ‘culling’ was broadcast last Sunday, and a second episode will follow this weekend. Gibbens: “The report on Carte Blanche saying that they are actually dumping the chickens and leaving them to die is not true (…) Unsubstantiated claims were broadcast in a reckless way and legal action will follow.”