Okanagan Animal Save raising concerns about hen cull at Shuswap egg farm

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A cull of hens at a Salmon Arm egg farm was caught on video by several members of Okanagan Animal Save – an animal welfare group with chapters around the world.

They say what they saw on April 7 disturbed them.

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“The most concerning thing was watching the live chickens fall into the dumpster still flapping,” said Susan Rowbottom with Okanagan Animal Save.

Egg producers euthanize hens after their laying cycle is over.

In the method recorded at the Salmon Arm egg farm, live chickens are thrown into a metal hopper, where they are electrocuted.

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Critics say they know the culling of hens is common practice on egg farms, but the group maintains the process wasn’t working correctly in this instance.

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“Every one out of every 10 to 20 chickens were still fully alive, flapping at the end,” Rowbottom said.

Katie Lowe is the executive director of the BC Egg Marketing Board, which represents egg farms.

She says nothing she saw in the videos that were recorded would indicate the chickens weren’t euthanized properly.

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“The practice being used is a method that is approved and it gives the hens a quick and painless death,” Lowe said.

She says the board has absolutely no concerns with this particular operation.

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“As I mentioned, animal welfare is our top priority and farms in the interior sometimes choose to euthanize hens on farm at the end of their lay cycle instead of transporting them over the Coquihalla in uncertain weather conditions, and for uncertain drive times, that we can’t guarantee their welfare.”

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the BC SPCA are looking into the group’s complaint.

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No charges have been laid.