AVMA condemns abuse at US layer farm

28-11-2011 | | |

Suspected abuse of layer hens uncovered at one of the US’s largest egg producers has been condemned by American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

In response to the investigative report by ABC News, McDonald’s and retail outlet Target both announced that they would no longer use Sparboe Farms as a supplier of eggs.

The ABC News broadcast included undercover video taken over the summer inside Sparboe facilities in three states by an animal rights group, Mercy for Animals, that appears to show unsanitary conditions and repeated acts of animal cruelty.

“Holding suppliers responsible for the care they give animals is essential to ensuring that livestock are treated humanely in production and processing facilities,” says Dr. Gail Golab, director of the AVMA Animal Welfare Division. “The AVMA applauds McDonald’s for ensuring that their suppliers meet reasonable guidelines for animal welfare.”

“The AVMA carefully examined the pros and cons of various housing systems – from cages to free range,” Dr. Golab added. “We have established clear policy based on that analysis, and have conveyed that information to industry and humane organizations to ensure that animals are cared for humanely no matter which housing system is used. That makes incidents like this all the more frustrating and heartbreaking. What we observed on today’s video isn’t about whether hens should be kept in cages or on pasture; it’s about poor human behavior.”

AVMA policy states that hen housing systems must protect animals from injury and disease, allow for natural behaviors, and promote food safety. The policy also encourages farms to participate in third-party animal welfare audits to ensure that established standards are met. Dr. Golab also stresses that all farm workers must be trained, monitored and tested for competency. Accepted standards for good care must apply to every animal on the property, not just those destined for a particular supplier.