The BCSPCA and Canada Food Inspection Agency are investigating a complaint about the way a hen cull was done at Zaitamyn Poultry Inc., an egg farm in Salmon Arm.
Members of the animal rights activist group Okanagan Animal Save recorded video of the cull on April 7, and stated they saw chickens being swung into an electric hopper and then piled into a dumpster while some were still alive.
Amanda Brittain, the director of communications and marketing for B.C. Egg, a regulatory body for commercial egg operations, said they are confident the farmer did everything properly in this case and hen welfare is a top priority for both them and their farmers.
Brittain said when hens reach the end of their laying cycle it is common practice to euthanize them, making room for the next flock. She said hens from Lower Mainland farms are usually trucked to a processing facility to be culled; in the Interior they are often euthanized on the farm as was the case at Zaitamyn Farm.
According to Brittain, on-farm culls are preferred in the Interior because the welfare of the hens cannot be guaranteed on the truck journey over the Coquihalla.
She added that the electrocution method of euthanasia that was used is endorsed by both the American and Canadian Veterinary Medical associations for providing a quick and painless death.
Brittain said the SPCA has visited the farm as part of their investigation.
Lorie Chortyk, general manager of community relations for the BCSPCA, confirmed they are investigating the matter.
One of the images shared by Okanagan Animal Save shows them speaking with RCMP officers outside the gates of the farm. Staff Sgt. Scott West of the Salmon Arm RCMP said the officers were called to the farm to liaise between a small number of protesters and the owners of the property. He said the officers were there to ensure the rights of all involved were respected, and to ensure public safety was maintained. It was determined that no further police action was required as the protest was small and orderly, and the rights of the property owner as well as the protesters were respected.