Animal cruelty lands NZ poultry farmer in jail

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 25th May 2010

A New Zealand poultry farmer has been sentenced to 1 year in jail, fined $10,000 for investigation costs and had his right to own broiler hens revoked for 10 years, after the New Zealand Food Safety Authority found evidence of sale of non-compliant animal products.

Gerard Francis Van Den Bogaart, trading as Golden Harvest Poultry, plead guilty to six offences under the NZ Animal Products Act and Animal Welfare Act after a search of two rural properties in South Auckland revealed hens, broiler chickens and ducks in appalling conditions.

NZFSA director of compliance and investigation Geoff Allen says what the investigators found during the operation beggared belief.

“We found chickens that were kept in filthy and inhumane conditions,” he said.

“No consumer should be put at risk by eating eggs or animals produced, kept or slaughtered in such unsanitary conditions and where the necessary precautions are not taken to manage the presence of harmful bacteria.”

More than 100,000 eggs were seized, 500 hens relocated and 1500 birds euthanised – 1100 of those to alleviate their suffering.

Records were found showing poultry and egg sales totalling $279,962 betwen January and June 2008.

The investigation came after Van Den Bogaart disregarded a NZFSA notice to cease sale of poultry and eggs, as well as slaughter of poultry. Previously, NZFSA had attempted to assist Van Den Bogaart in making his operation compliant, without success.

At the Papakura District Court, Her Honour Judge McAuslan sentenced Van Den Bogaart under the Animal Welfare Act to one year in prison for the wilful ill-treatment of broiler hens and roosters in his care and for two months concurrently for failing to provide for their physical, health and behavioural needs.

A concurrent sentence of six months for selling non-compliant animal products was also imposed.