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Chicken farm conditions "shocking"

Published: 6:19PM Saturday January 13, 2007 Source: One News

The related video contains images some viewers may find disturbing.

A poultry farm owner in south Auckland could soon become the focus of an investigation after an animal rights group raided his farm and took photos and video footage of conditions there.

The SPCA says the material is shocking and that it has investigated the owners before.

The Animal Liberation Front ignored warning signs not to trespass when they broke into the battery farm on Friday night.

They say video footage taken shows many birds crammed into cages unable to spread their wings or walk.

Rochelle Rees of Auckland Animal Action says it also shows "more horrendous" conditions, in particular, cages that had six or seven birds in them.

"They also had a lot of dead ones around all over the floor in the cages living with the live ones.

"Most consumers I think don't realise, when they're in the supermarket and [eggs are] labelled with things like 'country fresh', where the eggs are actually coming from."

The owner, and the man supposedly responsible for the care of the chickens is Gary van den Bogaart. He was not talking on Saturday but his neighbours were. One of them described the conditions as disgusting.

This is not the first time van den Bogaart has been accused of cruelty to animals.

In 1996, he was found guilty of cruelty to animals when three sheep on his property died. The judge said it would have been obvious that the sheep were suffering cruelty, distress and pain before they died.

The 1996 prosecution was taken by the SPCA and it is now promising renewed action.

David Lloyd-Barker of the SPCA says the conditions the chickens are being kept in are abhorrent to him.

"It saddens me every time we see pictures of animal cruelty like this. And again we will investigate this matter to the fullest extent of the law."

If the owner is charged and found guilty, the maximum penalty he faces under the Animal Welfare Act is six months jail and a fine of $25,000.