The animal rights organisation “Dzīvnieku brīvība” has published footage and images depicting the treatment of hens in Balticovo JSC poultry farms. The recorded material reveals cruelty towards the animals as well as their horrible living conditions.
Animal rights activists documented the treatment of hens in three Balticovo JSC poultry farms in Madona, Daugavpils and Iecava, in September of 2016. Balticovo JSC is Latvia’s and Northern Europe’s largest egg manufacturer.
The animals in the footage are exhausted, they’ve lost most of their feathers, they’re sick, crippled and dying from various infections. The animals have blood sucking parasites and most of the hens have had a partial beak amputation. Some animals in the cages were found to be dead and decomposing next to ones that were still alive, laying eggs for human consumption. The images revealed that the animals were very overcrowded in metal wire cages and displayed stereotypical behavior - pecking the bars and one another.
“The keeping of hens in cages in poultry farming is one of the most cruel forms of modern industrial farming. The eggs laid by hens in captivity are an unethical product which contradicts the values of our society”, says Aivars Andersons chairman of the board of the animal rights organisation “Dzīvnieku brīvība”. “The hens in the cages are denied of their natural environment and behavior. The animals spend their days standing on a metal grid, packed together amidst noise and dust. The hens are unable to move around normally or spread their wings. They never see daylight and have never stood on solid ground.”
The minimal requirements provided in law regarding the keeping of hens in enriched cages or deep litter state they shall be given a space which is at least 600cm2 (A4 page format) large, a perch which is at least 15cm long and a feeding tray at least 12cm long. The conditions observed in the poultry farms of Balticovo JSC did not meet even these minimal requirements, thus aggravating welfare problems of animals. Such treatment is forbidden by Latvian law and the EU Directive 1999/74/EC on minimum standards for the protection of laying hens.
The animal rights organisation “Dzīvnieku brīvība” encourages citizens not to purchase eggs produced under such circumstances and to sign a petition against the keeping of hens in cages in the website www.olucena.lv