Published 2 April 2015
Bald, emaciated and close to death: this is the shocking images on show inside a caged hen farm in Victoria.
These were the scenes that greeted Animal Liberation Victoria activists who broke into Wagner’s Poultry Farm in Coldstream in March.
The photographs they took at the Yarra Valley farm give a chilling insight into the bleak world of caged chicken factories.
Some of the hens found at Wagner’s Poultry Farm were ravaged and dying
Some looked as if they had only a few days left to live such was their condition
Eggs were still being produced at the farm despite the poorly hens
Activists said they found birds living in terrible conditions. Amazingly, two weeks earlier government health officials inspected the farm, but gave it the all clear.
However, several hens were in such a bad state that they had to be removed from the cages by the activists as they were in desperate need of veterinary care.
‘During multiple investigations in March, our rescue team discovered deformed, sick and dying hens, filthy conditions and immensely dangerous working conditions, which are now being investigated by Worksafe,’ Noah Hannibal president of Animal Liberation Victoria told Daily Mail Australia.
Hens continue to lay eggs despite a dead carcase lying in the cage beneath them
Animal Liberation Victoria activists look through the cages to see how healthy the hens are
‘Photos and video were taken of hens with eyeballs hanging out, with mangled beaks, and completely defeathered hens.
‘Hens spend over a year in small wire cages, as is standard practice in the egg industry. When they are no longer ‘profitable’ they are sent to the slaughterhouse.
‘Our rescue team found many hens in urgent need of veterinary attention, who were clearly not receiving any care.’
But the owner of the 6000-bird farm that sells caged, free-range chicken and duck eggs has denied claims that the animals were not being cared for properly.
Two dead hen carcases are just left on the floor of the caged chicken farm
Dirt and dust hang from the hen cages that look as if they haven’t been cleaned for ages
Wagner’s Poultry is a family business that has been operating for over 50 years.
‘Wagner’s is regularly inspected by the Department of Primary Industries alongside a veterinary practitioner to ensure Wagner’s meets all regulatory requirements and adheres to the industries code of practice,’ the company said in a statement.
‘At no time has the industry regulator raised concerns with the animal husbandry practices on Wagner’s property.
‘Wagner’s Chicken Picken shed has been specifically designed to ensure that all our poultry is selected in a stress-free environment rather than being chased and caught in the paddock.’
Nothing to see here: One hen with a mangled beak looks forlornly out through its cage
Hundreds of hens stand in rows of cages as they lay eggs in pretty dire conditions
Dirty and emaciated hens stand in their cages with no room to move
The government department responsible for animal welfare in commercial facilities also confirmed two recent inspections did not find any breaches under animal cruelty laws.
However, Mr Hannibal maintained that not only is the farm a hell hole for hens, it is also extremely unsafe for workers.
‘Narrow and flimsy walkways next to the central cages drop directly into manure pits below,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
‘This presents a huge danger to any humans working in the shed who are at risk of falling down to the excrement pit a floor below – when they attempt to populate and depopulate the cages, or carry out the ‘daily inspection’ required by law.
An Animal Liberation Victoria activist lifts up one of the hens to show how bad it looks
Another Animal Liberation Victoria activist takes a dirty and exhausted hen from one of the cages
Webs and dirt hang from the ceiling and cages where the hens as an Animal Liberation Victoria activist looks on in shock
‘Many people consider free range eggs to be an ethical alternative to these cruel battery systems that are in operation.
‘But consumers should realise that all eggs, whether they are caged, barn or ‘free range’, cause enormous suffering and death.’
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