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Loss Of Major NZ Poultry Slaughterhouse Causes Welfare Concern

by 5m Editor
5 January 2007, at 12:58pm

NEW ZEALAND - The recent fire that destroyed Tegel's only South Island poultry slaughterhouse could have serious ramifications for the welfare of hundreds of thousands of chickens, causing SAFE, New Zealand's second largest animal advocacy organisation, serious concerns.

"Tegel's slaughterhouse operation in Hornby kills about 50,000 chickens each day. The massive backlog of chickens awaiting slaughter could cause serious welfare problems and result in increased bird mortalities," says Hans Kriek, campaign director of SAFE.

The poultry industry has purposely produced a meat chicken that has an accelerated growth rate that allows the birds to be Œtable ready' at a mere six weeks of age. Their unnaturally large bodies place enormous strain on the birds' legs resulting in abnormal gait, lameness and pain.

"The destruction of the slaughterhouse could cause a delay in killing these fast-growing birds, which will increase the level of suffering. Tegel has publicly stated that their focus is on staff and customers but SAFE calls on them to ensure their priorities include the tens of thousands of animals also affected," says Mr Kriek.

"SAFE is concerned the poultry industry's contingency for emergency slaughter could result in compromised humane slaughter procedures. If the birds are forced to remain on farms for prolonged periods or transported to the North Island for slaughter, systems must be in place to mitigate as much suffering as possible".

The industrialised farming methods used by the New Zealand broiler industry already cause widespread suffering to 80 million chickens. Tegel must act swiftly and ensure that all steps are taken to avoid any further cruelty to their animals.

ThePoultrySite News Desk

5m Editor