Spring 2003 Poultry Press << Previous - Next >>

Egg Company Threw 30,000 Hens Into Wood-Chipping Machines

The farmer, Bill Wilgenburg, said he had to use a mulcher . . . because of rules imposed by the federal-state Task Force on Newcastle Disease" that prevented him from moving his "spent" hens off the property. - North County Times (2/28/03)

San Diego County investigated the Ward Egg Ranch, whose workers said their arms got tired "from breaking the chickens' necks, so they threw them into the machinery." USDA veterinary consultant Gregg Cutler, who sits on the Animal Welfare Committee of the AVMA, reportedly told the ranch the wood chipper was "painless" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/22). Though County Animal Services Lt. Mary Kay Gagliardo said "It's clearly animal cruelty" (North County Times, 2/28), the DA's Office announced on April 10 that the company "did not commit any crime because a veterinarian from the U.S. Department of Agriculture gave them permission to use wood chippers to destroy the birds" (San Diego Union Tribune, 4/11).

UPC had urged the District Attorney to prosecute the company and wrote to the AVMA concerning Cutler's advice to use wood-chippers. The AVMA wrote back: "Dr. Cutler informed us that he never recommended using a wood chipper." UPC is doing a follow- up investigation of this case.

Spring 2003 Poultry Press << Previous - Next >>