United Poultry Concerns April 16, 2003

Thirty Thousand Hens Were Fed to Wood-Chipping Machines
Urge Deputy District Attorney to File Cruelty Charges Against Everyone Responsible

“It’s clearly animal cruelty.” – Animal Services Lt. Mary Kay Gagliardo North County Times 2/28/03

In February, workers at the Ward Egg Ranch in San Diego County, California threw 30,000 unwanted hens into wood-chipping machinery, in which a piece of wood is “fed into a chipper’s funnel-shaped opening, and blades on a rapidly spinning disk or drum cut it into small pieces.”

When County Animal Services investigators told them to stop, they said the workers continued to throw the live hens into the machinery, and company owners Arie and Bill Wilgenburg said they were acting on the advice of a veterinarian from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

On April 10th, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office announced it would not prosecute the Ward Egg Ranch because the owners claimed to have acted under the direction of a USDA veterinarian, who has denied advising the company to kill the hens by grinding them up alive.

Grinding up live animals is not recommended by the 2000 AVMA Panel on Euthanasia Report, which states: “When animals must be euthanized, either as individuals or in larger groups, moral and ethical concerns dictate that humane practices be observed.” Humane practices were not observed in this case, and it appears that one or more veterinarians took part in the decision to shred the unwanted hens while they were alive.

Please urge the deputy district attorney handling this case to charge everyone responsible for this act of extreme cruelty, especially any veterinarian who recommended the wood chippers. Grinding up live adult animals is not listed as a recommended or permissible method of “euthanasia” under any state or federal law in the United States.

Elisabeth Silva, Deputy District Attorney’s Office
325 South Melrose Drive, Suite 5000
Vista, CA 92083
Ph: 760-806-4004, option 4
Fax: 760-806-4162


United Poultry Concerns is a nonprofit organization that promotes the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl.

United Poultry Concerns, Inc.
PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405-0150
FAX: 757-678-5070

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