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Animal rights group seeks probe of poultry firm

May 6, 2008 | 10:52 am

Chickens_in_cage_in_gemperle_enterp

An animal protection organization is throwing back the curtains on the West Coast's largest distributor of eggs, releasing a hidden-camera video that shows chickens being mistreated by handlers and locked in cages so small the birds can't spread their wings, The Times' Eric Bailey reports:

The footage, shot covertly by an undercover investigator with the group Mercy for Animals, shows workers kicking and stomping on chickens and snapping the necks of sick hens. It also shows birds left with untreated wounds and crowded into cages, sometimes amid rotting corpses.

Officials with the animal protection group said the video was shot this year at Gemperle Enterprises, a Turlock farming outfit that supplies giant NuCal Foods Inc., the biggest supplier of eggs in the western United States.

The company's response?

[Steve] Gemperle said it was unclear whether the new footage truly was shot at one of his family's farms, but said the mistreatment violated his company's policies.

The video comes on the heels of an effort to get a measure on the November ballot to outlaw the kinds of cages that the chickens in the photo above are contained within.

-- Francisco Vara-Orta

Photo: Mercy for Animals

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