A three-minute video taken at a California egg farm shows a man beating a pile of mostly deceased hens and chasing others around the property with a giant stick.
The footage of the 40-year-old Pine Hill Egg Ranch in Ramona was reportedly shot last week.
According to 10News, which obtained the video, hens are euthanized when the rate at which they lay eggs slows down. In this case, they were gassed with carbon dioxide, but not all of the hens died.
The worker stands over a pile of dead hens, and strikes any of the animals if they’re still moving.
After viewing the footage, Pine Hill issued a statement that it is “outraged” that a third-party company hired to euthanize hens “mistreated” the animals.
"Pine Hill Egg Ranch contracted a third party service company to euthanize the hens,” the statement said. “This third party company was repeatedly advised on the legal standard of euthanization. The crew member depicted in the video was acting directly against Pine Hill Egg Ranch policy and his third party company management. This crew member will not be allowed to perform services for Pine Hill Egg Ranch at any time in the future."
"Pine Hill Egg Ranch is outraged to find out its hens were mistreated by this crew member," it continued. "Pine Hill Egg Ranch has a zero tolerance policy for animal cruelty in its operations."
County Animal Services told 10News that the video was disturbing and inconsistent with accepted standards in animal control. They are opening an investigation into the matter, said a representative.
But the beating these animals were given might not be illegal.
Blunt force trauma is apparently an acceptable method to euthanize poultry, according to American Veterinary Medical Association. But guidelines state it must be done humanely by competent personnel.
Egg law in California has led to controversial negotiations within the federal farm bill. Federal legislation seeks to stop California from requiring all eggs imported into the state be produced by hens who are given enough room to spread their wings. The Human Society spent $100,000 to protect the ban on tiny cages, releasing ads that call the federal legislation a “dangerous federal overreach” that would threaten the food supply.
“Arguably the most abused animals in agribusiness, the vast majority of laying hens in the United States are crammed into tiny cages so restrictive they can't even spread their wings,” says the Humane Society. “Our 'No Battery Eggs' campaign works with food retailers and manufacturers, food service companies, restaurants, airlines, cruise lines, schools and other large egg users to phase out the use of eggs from birds confined in cages.”