SAPA tightens reigns on chick production

28-08-2009 | | |
SAPA tightens reigns on chick production

The South African Poultry Association (SAPA) and the animal welfare society NSPCA have announced a tighter monitoring of the chick production sector. This comes after a well known breeder, Jan Serfontein of Boskop Layer Farm outside Potchefstroom, is accused of malpractice.

The farm allegedly disposes of 70,000 male chicks a week by throwing them into an empty cement dam and leaving them there to die, instead of gassing them or feeding them into a high-speed grinder.

Alongside the police and the NSPCA, poultry association SAPA is conducting its own investigation in the matter. Results will be discussed with both parties, and made public afterwards, the South African agricultural weekly magazine Landbou reported.

According to SAPA CEO Kevin Lovell, all members of the association must adhere to the organisation’s code of conduct based on international standards, which prescribe that formal inspections by the NSPCA should take place on a regular basis. Furthermore, members must involve an independent third party (through the South African Veterinarian Association) to prove that their business practices are in order.

According to Lovell, many SA citizens have expressed concern about the fact that there’s no economically viable way to use male chicks from layer breeds. “Modern layer hens are bred in a way that they can produce many eggs during a long period of time without gaining a great amount of weight. Conversely, modern broiler chicks are bred so that they grow quickly on a minimum amount of feed to produce a marketable bird. Male layer chicks therefore cannot compete with broilers,” Lovell explains.

Over the weekend it emerged that Boskop Layer Farm intends on claiming more than R50 mln (€4.5 mln) in damages from current affairs TV programme Carte Blanche, according to Sunday’s Rapport newspaper. The claim was currently being drawn up and would be served on Carte Blanche in the coming week, Jan Serfontein’s lawyer, George Gibbens, was quoted as saying. The amount was for damage to the farm as well as Serfontein’s reputation. The breeder is a former minister of agriculture in the North West Province.

Boskop Layer Farm would argue that the producers of the programme didn’t verify their facts properly and didn’t consider that the farm was a private enterprise. A former employee supplied the programme with video footage showing that day old rooster chicks were dumped in an empty farm dam to starve to death. Gibbens said Carte Blanche should have treated video footage with more scepticisim, as the former employee allegedly had a grievance against Serfontein.

Related links:

SA poultry breeder accused of large-scale cruelty (13 Aug)

Cruel hen breeder rejected by giant supermarkets (13 Aug)

SA poultry breeder denies accusations (19 Aug)

Task force investigates SA layer farm (20 Aug)

South African chicken farmer wants to sue (25 Aug)

Natalie Berkhout Freelance journalist