Five live hens were found among thousands of dead chickens dumped in a Winnipeg landfill, prompting questions about the province’s egg industry and outrage from animal lovers.
The live birds were found at the Brady Landfill by workers who then called an animal rescue group. One of the birds was in such poor shape it was later euthanized. The other birds are now being cared for by animal sanctuaries.
The Winnipeg Humane Society said this kind of disturbing discovered also happened last summer when other birds were found dumped alive and waiting to be bulldozed at the same landfill. It’s part of a normal industrial egg farming practice, according to the humane society .
“In such barns, including free run barns, it is industry standard to cull the entire barn of hens (often thousands per barn) when egg production drops below 90%,” the human society said in a statement. “The mass killing of young healthy birds takes place, and then a new batch of hens is brought in to replace the old ones. This is done as a means to prevent profit loss – the cycle continuously repeats itself.”
One of the chickens saved this month was later named Pearl.
She was found alive and fully conscious by landfill workers. Pearl was suffering from severe feather loss, but is now recovering at The Good Place: Farm Rescue & Sanctuary.
“The saddest part, I’m told it happens all the time,” The Good Place posted on Facebook.
“This is unacceptable,” the sanctuary added. “How many others woke from a failed euthansia only to be buried alive, suffocated or die from injuries sustained while being amongst thousands of other chickens in the back of a dump truck. How many chickens across Manitoba does this happen to daily, weekly, yearly?”
The organization called on the Manitoba Egg Farmers to act.
Dear Manitoba Egg Farmers…AGAIN. “We’re egg farmers, we love what we do” is the slogan heard over and over again…Posted by The Good Place: Farm Rescue & Sanctuary on Sunday, April 4, 2021
The farming group responded with a statement saying it is “devastated” by what happened.
“This situation should never have happened, especially after an incident in July 2020 where two live hens were found at Brady Landfill after a flock was euthanized,” the group explained.
After that, the farming group said it worked with the chief veterinary’s office to ensure “all birds at the end of lay are humanely euthanized going forward.”
The dead birds are supposed to wind up as composting on farms, turned into pet food or become food for people.
“If these options are unavailable, the euthanized hens are sent to the landfill,” the group said, adding, “Manitoba Egg Farmers takes full responsibility for this situation.”
Manitoba Egg Farmers was devastated to learn that five hens were found alive amongst a spent flock this weekend at Brady…Posted by Manitoba Egg Farmers on Monday, April 5, 2021
It pledged to further “refine” the process.
“We are continuing to evaluate this as it unfolds and are committed to ensuring this never happens again,” the group added.
Meanwhile, vets at Grant Park Animal Hospital took a gander at the rescued birds.
They may be on the mend, but animal welfare advocates worry about other flocks that fill egg farms.
“Will we ever know how many chickens are buried alive at the Brady landfill? Probably not, but watchdog workers note that it happens far too often. There were likely more than the 5 hens found, who survived the mass cull, however they weren’t lucky enough to be at the top of the pile,” the humane society noted.
“Hens like Pearl remind us that we as Canadian citizens have the right to know the truth about how animals are being raised and treated on industrialized farms.”
Meet Pearl: An egg laying hen with severe feather loss who was rescued from the Brady landfill on April 1st, 2021. Pearl was part of a routine mass culling of young, healthy hens because egg production started to decrease in her barn. https://t.co/WWRvrBeZKm pic.twitter.com/rh4aQzA54H— Winnipeg Humane Society (@WinnipegHumane) April 5, 2021