|June 2001 - July 2002 Victoria, NSW and ACT, Australia
PACE Farm Investigation: South Morang, Victoria June - July, 2001
The Pace Farm complex in South Morang (north of Melbourne) is mostly battery hens (four enormous multi-tiered sheds and numerous single tiered cage sheds). There are also two barnlaid sheds which are endorsed by the RSPCA, and one shed referred to as "free-range".
On June 20, 2001 the rescue team inspected one of the barnlaid sheds and witnessed extreme over crowding, there were no perches at all (even though the RSPCA assures consumers there is adequate perch space) and the birds were severely debeaked, many missing their whole top beak. Electrified wires ran along the top of the feeding and water outlets, shocking the hens when they tried to roost. There were no 'hospital bay' areas for sick or injured hens to rest. We witnessed groups of hens cannibalising sick and injured hens. One hen was catatonic and weighed only 1.2 kg, below half normal body weight (see below). She was later euthanased by a vet.
The rescue team returned on July 5, 2001 to the Pace Farm complex in South Morang. One of the barnlaid sheds had just been depopulated. Several hens had been abandoned and left behind in the cold empty shed, which was still full of the accumulated faecal matter from thousands of hens over a one year period. Three hens were found roosting on a pile of dead bodies. These hens had hardened faecal balls, some the size of oranges on each claw (see photo). These clumps had to be soaked for over an hour and chiseled off with a hammer. The hens were severely dehydrated, underweight and weak.
The team then went inside one of the totally enclosed four tier high battery cage sheds. They found dozens of debilitated and ill battery hens abandoned and left to die in mountains of their own excrement in the pit under their cages.
On the cage floor level the rescue team found severe overcrowding and numerous sick and injured hens left unattended in the cages. Many were bald and suffering gashes and wounds from overgrown claws and or pecking by the other birds. Dead bodies were left rotting in the cages with the live birds. The smell was noxious and the birds made frantic noises non-stop.
On leaving the property around midnight, the rescue team saw a semi-trailer truck stacked high with crates of live birds left standing out exposed in the dark night. It was cold, windy and raining, these birds made miserable sounds, it was heartbreaking.
Click on any photo for larger version
sick and injured birds being taken to freedom
a hen suffering severe feather loss in the south morang battery
life in the battery
faecal balls on this hen rescued from the manure pit had to be chiselled off with a hammer
this starving hen was found in a catatonic state...
she was not able to recover and had to be euthanased by a vet
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overcrowded barnlaid shed