Poultry association suspends company over chick slaughter

The South African Poultry Association (Sapa) has suspended the membership of Boskop Layer Chicks (BLC) over the killing of day-old chicks, it was confirmed on Monday.

“When the allegation that tens of thousands of day-old chicks were disposed of by abandoning them and leaving them to die in a cement dam was initially made, BLC voluntarily accepted suspension of its membership pending an investigation by Sapa,” the company said in a statement on Monday.

The suspension would be lifted when a veterinarian or the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) certified that the chicks, pipped eggs (eggs that have been cracked by the chick at hatching time) and unhatched eggs were being disposed of according to Sapa’s code of practice, it said.

Last month, Beeld reported that animal rights groups were up in arms over the chick-killing practices at BLC, one of the biggest chicken farms in South Africa.

It was alleged that male birds were being dumped in an empty dam to starve or suffocate, because they were “economically worthless”.

Beeld reported that the NSPCA had laid nine charges against former North West agriculture minister Jan Serfontein and his son Jan Serfontein jnr. under the Animal Protection Act.

On Monday, BLC said it was taking action over recent media reports which it described as inaccurate, misleading and sensationalist.

It pointed out that Serfontein senior was retired and was not a shareholder or a director of BLC, nor was he a member of Sapa.

The company said a Sapa investigation had found, on the balance of probabilities, it could not be corroborated that live chicks were dumped in a cement dam as standard practice.

“The allegation that this practice has been going on for 70 years is also patently false,” the company said.

“The day-old chicks are currently euthanised by maceration [slaughter using a high-speed grinder],” BLC said.

“The farm-animal unit of the NSPCA has been advised timeously and before every maceration, but they have failed to attend any of the macerations.”

BLC said a veterinarian had concluded a report into the chicken farm.

“The suggestions have been implemented, and are being adhered to.
The veterinarian has been requested to monitor the processes followed and to regularly report thereon.

“The veterinarian will issue a certificate of compliance in due course.”

The company said it would not apply for the lifting of the suspension until this certificate was issued.

“We do, however, stay fully committed to Sapa,” it said. - Sapa

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