CLARKE’S BEACH, NL—National animal law organization Animal Justice has filed an animal cruelty report, asking the RCMP in Newfoundland & Labrador to investigate the deaths of 19,000 chickens killed by heat stress at B.I.A. Farms on Roaches Line. Animal Justice learned of the chickens’ deaths following media reports on Friday, October 25.
Known as broiler chickens, the animals were among the 160,000 chickens being raised for meat at the B.I.A. Farms facility. Broiler chickens are particularly susceptible to heat stress because they are genetically manipulated to grow obscenely large in a very short time. News reports indicate that a computer malfunction impacted the heating and ventilation system in the facility in which the chickens were confined.
Chickens suffering from heat stress generally exhibit symptoms such as increased water consumption, panting, rapid breathing, holding their wings outstretched in an effort to cool off, and seizures and disorientation. Nonetheless, the malfunction at B.I.A. Farms went undetected long enough that 19,000 chickens died, and an unknown number suffered symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Provincial officials indicated that no enforcement action was necessary as the incident did not violate the Animal Health and Protection Act.
“The law of Newfoundland and Labrador protects animals from distress and suffering caused by neglect,” said Kaitlyn Mitchell, staff lawyer for Animal Justice. “Facilities confining animals must ensure proper ventilation and air quality for chickens. To this end, operators are required not only to regularly inspect and maintain heating and ventilation systems, but also to observe chickens’ behaviour and watch for signs of heat stress.”
“Canadians care deeply about how farmed animals are treated. We are calling on law enforcement officials to look into this serious lethal incident.”
Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals