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12 Aug 2009 08:41
Animal rights groups are up in arms over a former agricultural minister and his son who are allegedly involved in chick killing practices on one of the biggest chicken farms in the country.
Beeld newspaper reported on Wednesday that up to 70 000 male birds were dumped in an empty cement dam every week and left to die, because they were “economically worthless”.
According to a former Boskop Layer Chicks employee, Kobus van Zyl, this has been going on for the past 70 years, as long as the North West chicken farm—owned by Jan Serfontein and his son, Jan—has existed.
Van Zyl said sometimes it would take up to five days for the chicks to die, mainly of starvation or suffocation.
He made videos of the practice which he has now handed over to the television current affairs show Carte Blanche.
“The chicks are a by-product of a very profitable business and the Serfonteins did not know what to do with them,” said Van Zyl.
He decided to expose them because of the “mess” that had been made on the farm, causing serious environmental pollution.
The male chicks were useless to the farmers because they could not lay eggs.
Boskop Layer Chicks in Potchefstroom—one of the three biggest chicken farms in the country—breeds hens for the egg industry.
The Serfonteins’ lawyer, George Gibbens, said they had no choice but to get rid of the chicks.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals spokesperson Christine Kuch said when the animal welfare group visited the farm, the Serfonteins seemed surprised.
“The owner was surprised that we were so shocked about the situation,” said Kuch.
Normally, it is acceptable to gas chicks to death, Beeld reported.
The SA Poultry Organisation is also investigating the matter.
Serfontein senior is the former for agriculture, conservation and environment minister in the North West province. - Sapa
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