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Andhra Pradesh, Telangana hatcheries are living hell for chicks

Hyderabad: Male chicks are being burned, drowned and crushed by major hatcheries and farms across Telangana and AP, animal rights organisation PETA has revealed in an investigative video shot by an Israel-based organisation, Anonymous of Animal Rights.

The investigation was carried out between February and April last year. The investigator visited several hatcheries as well as farmhouses in Telangana and AP — among them Suguna Foods, Venkateshwara Hatcheries Pvt Ltd, SR group, Skylark, SH group, and Diamond group.

Over 180 million “unwanted” male chicks are killed in India every year because they are considered useless to the egg and meat industries. The methods of killing documented by the probe include sexing of the chicks, debeaking, grinding, drowning, crushing and suffocation and even burning.

People for Ethical Treatment for Animals, India, has called on the egg and meat industries in the states to stop such cruel practices. Nikunj Sharma, the government affairs liaison for PETA said: “We demand that the government push these poultry farms and hatcheries to consider new ovo-sexing technology in which the chicks’ gender is determined before they hatch, as this will prevent large-scale deaths of male chicks, and to establish a written standard for painless euthanasia for unhealthy chicks.”

Mr Sharma added that these industries are causing suffering to the chicks, and that means they are violating the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960. According to the Indian Penal Code, violators can be jailed for five years and fined up to  Rs 25,000. Meanwhile, universities in Australia, Canada and the US are studying ovo-sexing technology which is currently not available anywhere in the world. But PETA insists even India too should work on such technology.

PETA sent letters against all the industries to the Chief Ministers of both the Telugu states on Tuesday. “From packing mutilated hens into tiny cages to drowning and burning live chicks, the egg and meat industries are rife with cruelty,” PETA India CEO Poorva Joshipura, said.

Cruel methods

Incubation: Problems with incubators causes deformities, such as protruding organs in chicks. A single incubator can hold 90,000 eggs

Sexing: Workers press down on chicks’ genitals in order to determine gender. At Venkateshwara hatcheries, workers spread out anal vents to determine sex.

Debeaking: A high number of chicks’ beaks were cut off with a searing-hot blade. The Diamond Group hatchery uses a machine to cut off their beaks.

Drowning: Unwanted chicks are also drowned in drums — chicks struggle for  at least 30 minutes. The Diamond Group uses this method to kill male chicks.

Burning: Workers at hatchery units belonging to the SH Group and Diamond Group kill chicks by tossing them into a fire.

Crushing and Suffocation: Suguna Foods and Sky Lark’s workers were caught dumping ‘waste chick’ into large drums.

Fish food: Workers also transported chicks to fish farms and tossed them into the ponds to be eaten alive by the fish.

Grinding: Suguna Foods dump live chicks, including injured ones and those suffering from prolapsed organs and partially hatched ones into grinders.

Grading: Venkateshwara workers check for unhealthy chicks in a procedure called grading. Suguna Foods also rejects 5 to 10% of newly-hatched chicks.

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