Animal cruelty investigation launched; four staff sacked

Contractors sacked after alleged mistreatment of chickens at Bridgewater Poultry exposed


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The footage was captured by animal rights activists in April and May. Picture: ANIMAL LIBERATION

The footage was captured by animal rights activists in April and May. Picture: ANIMAL LIBERATION

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Agriculture Victoria is investigating and police have been notified.

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CONTRACTORS alleged to have been filmed kicking, throwing and abusing chickens at Bridgewater Poultry have been dismissed.

AGRI Recruitment and Training operations manager Rebecca Gillard said the conduct displayed in the video footage was totally against company policy, staff training and community expectations.

"It is unclear why the staff members conducted themselves in this manner," she said.

"As soon as we became aware of the mistreatment we took what we thought was appropriate action."

She said the four staffers involved were immediately dismissed and the matter had been reported to police.

Victoria Police said it was aware of an alleged incident involving the mistreatment of chickens at a rural property in Bridgewater.

The matter was being investigated by Agriculture Victoria.

"We have met with all staff who were working at the time of the incident and reiterated our company policy on appropriate handling of birds and the high standards we expect of our staff,' Ms Gillard said.

She said the company would offer the dismissed workers support, as appropriate.

"Whilst the incident was totally against our company policy, training and community expectations, we do take full responsibility for what has happened," Ms Gillard said.

"We are a respected local family business which values the way we are regarded by our community.

"We say to people in this or similar industries, if you are aware or suspect any inhumane treatment of animals, we encourage you to report it to Agriculture Victoria or your state-based agriculture authority immediately."

The footage was captured by animal rights activists in April and May.

Victorian Farmers Federation egg group president Tony Nesci said the consortium of farmers that owned Bridgewater Poultry, himself included, did not condone the acts depicted in the video.

Mr Nesci told the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age he was horrified by the footage and livid at what had happened.

He said the contractors were hired because the farm was quarantined.

Bridgewater Poultry Farm eggs was recalled in March because of a salmonella outbreak.

Woolworths and Coles stopped taking the farm's eggs that same month.

Eggs from Bridgewater Poultry are sold under the labels of Loddon Valley Eggs, Victorian Fresh Eggs and Country Fresh Eggs.

At its peak, the farm constituted about 10 per cent of the national egg market.

The Bendigo Advertiser, with smh.com.au and theage.com.au

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