Maple Lodge to spend $1 million after chicken cruelty conviction
Cruelty Convictions Shame Maple Lodge Farms Ltd
One of the country’s biggest chicken producers will have to spend at least $1 million over three years to ensure compliance with federal rules after an Ontario judge convicted it of causing undue suffering to the birds.
In a case closely watched by animal-rights groups, Ontario Superior Court Justice Nancy Kastner also fined Maple Lodge Farms $80,000 on two of 20 counts of failing to transport chickens humanely.
Kastner placed the company based in Brampton, Ont., on three years probation, suspending the other 18 counts for the duration.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency charged Maple Lodge Farms under the Health of Animals Act with cruelty to chickens after 2,000 of the birds died on two trips to slaughter in the winter of 2008-2009.
One of the trucks was carrying spent hens — birds that have outlived their egg-laying usefulness; the other had broiler chickens — those raised for meat.
Evidence was that the birds succumbed after exposure to snow, frigid winds, and freezing temperatures during loading, transport, and unloading.
Kastner convicted the company in September 2013 on two of the counts, and Maple Lodge Farms pleaded guilty to 18 of the remaining charges this week in court in Brampton.
Maple Lodge Farms must spend the $1 million to modify its fleet of trailers used to carry broiler and spent hens and make other changes, Kastner ordered.
Activists said the case demonstrates that “just-in-time” deliveries of chickens to market is a problem.
“Just-in-time production serves the industry, while animals suffer and die during extreme hot and cold weather,” said Stephanie Brown, of Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals.
Other probation conditions require the company to report publicly if more than one per cent of the broilers or more than four per cent of the spent hens are dead on arrival.
Drivers will have to report weather conditions at time of loading to the company, and take and keep digital photographs of the loading.
Maple Lodge Farms, which kills about 500,000 birds per day, must also provide quarterly proof of compliance.
I’m confident processing procedures will be a priority,in the Maple Lodge.
Change maybe accomplished thru training,ideas,and proper supervision.
Camera’s located around the plant,would be highly beneficial to monitoring workers performance in regard to humane practices.
Slow down the assembly line,so workers can do their job properly.
Speeding up assembly line only makes everyone one suffer,including the workers.
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