Sickly birds land Nulaid in hot water

Nulaid, a division of Pioneer Foods, has admitted that animal welfare standards were breached at its cull facility in Rustenburg in North West, where end-of-lay birds are sold live to the public.

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The company came under fire for the poor condition of birds from the NSPCA, which ordered the humane slaughter of 106 sick and injured birds.

The NSPCA said a Nulaid employee was selling emaciated, injured and dying birds at the facility. “Some had broken wings and/or legs. Some had exposed wounds so infected that they had turned green.”

Such was the degree of cruelty the NSPCA was pursuing legal action against Nulaid under the Animal Protection Act. “Records show that in less than a month, 1 737 chickens were either dead on arrival at this sales outlet or had to be emergency-slaughtered due to injuries.”

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“Regrettably, Nulaid’s standards were compromised at this site. A few steps have been taken including disciplinary action against relevant staff. All staff will be retrained in the humane handling of the depleted hens, among other things,” said Lulu Khumalo, Pioneer Foods executive for corporate affairs.

SA Poultry Association CEO Kevin Lovell said layers were sent to cull when egg production dropped off and they were no longer economically viable. Provided end-of-lay birds were healthy, they could be sold live regardless of their age. “If a bird is not healthy, it has to be euthanised,” he said.