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Scene at farm where 47,000 chickens died horrifies rescuers

February 27, 2012 |  7:24 am

Animal rescuers racing to save 3,000 chickens from an abandoned farm near Turlock said they were horrified by the scene there.

"My heart is in my throat," said Anne Martin, with Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary.

Authorities say that 47,000 of the roughly 50,000 chickens found last week at the farm have died. The others were sent to various sanctuaries.

"These are the sicker birds from the group ... most are able to stand on their feet ... they are interested in food, they are drinking but they are not as lively as the other birds, not as enthusiastic,"  Martin told Fox 40.

A&L Poultry, the owner of the abandoned egg farm, issued this statement:

A&L Poultry has been in the process of arranging the shut down of its egg production operations utilizing the industry’s business practices and standards.

An attempt to arrange for delivery of  the chickens to a third party in order to avoid the usual business practice of euthanizing the chickens resulted in an unacceptable situation A&L Poultry did not intend, and profoundly regrets.

Authorities told the Modesto Bee that the hens had not been fed in more than two weeks.

Animal service officials investigated after a citizen complained about the business, Patton said, adding the owner is potentially facing animal neglect charges.

Initial testing did not indicate that the birds were diseased, a veterinarian for the animal service agency said.