Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Farm dumps ‘economically worthless’ male chicks

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

Vote for an informed choice

We’re dropping the paywall this week so that everyone can access all our stories for free, and get the information they need in the run up to the local government elections. To follow the news, sign up to our daily elections newsletter for the latest updates and analysis.

If our coverage helps inform your decision, cast your vote for an informed public and join our subscriber community. Right now, a full year’s access is just R510, half the usual cost. Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.

Related stories


Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Latest stories

Cliff and Steenhuisen are wrong. Here’s why race matters in...

Both the podcast host and the leader of the Democratic Alliance believe in a toothless non-racialism that ignores the historical foundation of racism and the pain it inflicts in the present

Mission implausible for the DA’s man in Nkandla

Malibongwe Dubazane is contesting all 14 of the IFP-run Nkandla local municipality’s wards

Andries Tatane’s spirit will drive fight against ANC in Ficksburg

The nascent Setsoto Service Delivery Forum is confident it can remove the ‘failing ANC’ in the chronically mismanaged Free State municipality

Paddy Harper: On gleeful politicians and headless chickens

Paddy Harper doesn’t know who to vote for yet, since the Dagga Party isn’t contesting his ward, but right now what to order for lunch is a more pressing concern

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…