Undercover video shows need to uncage hens, animal rights group charges
Published Thursday, July 21, 2016 6:20PM EDT Last Updated Thursday, July 21, 2016 6:33PM EDT
An animal rights group says a video released this week of activity at a Wellington County egg farm shows the sorts of unduly harsh conditions faced by hens across the country.
Mercy for Animals says the video was taken by an undercover worker at a farm on Concession Road 6 in Moorefield, west of Drayton, between March 19 and May 9.
Krista Hiddema, the organization’s executive director, says it shows dead hens left inside cages with living birds, as well as other hens in distress, some with their feathers falling out.
“What the whistleblowers saw … were literally thousands of hens, crammed inside of cages so small that they couldn’t freely walk, they couldn’t freely spread their wings or even lie down comfortably,” she said in an interview.
The Moorefield-area farm is associated with Gray Ridge Farms, the second-biggest egg producer in Canada.
Gray Ridge executive vice-president Mike Walsh says the video does appear to have been shot at one of its farms and he is “disappointed” with what it shows.
“What is shown is inconsistent with our high standards for animal care,” he said in a statement.
“All Gray Ridge employees receive training to provide good care for hens … and our track record through external animal care audits is strong.”
Walsh added that the company is reviewing its practices and will “swiftly and thoroughly address any situation that does not uphold our code and policies.”
Chicken veterinarian Mike Petrik says the video does not accurately depict what goes on inside a barn at an egg farm.
“This is a situation where it’s a few images taken out of a very large barn, that maybe aren’t as dramatic as they were made out to be,” he said Thursday.
Hiddema claims the scenes shown in the video are “standard practice” at egg farms across Canada.
The Canadian egg industry is working toward phasing out battery cages for laying hens, through a process it expects to take 20 years to complete.
Mercy for Animals says it wants to see action much sooner, in the form of an immediate end to caging hens at egg farms.
With reporting by Tyler Calver