The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has concluded its investigation into alleged animal welfare offences at a Tegel broiler farm in west Auckland.
MPI animal welfare inspectors and a veterinarian made an unannounced visit to the Helensville farm at the end of July this year after a complaint about the welfare of the chickens was received from an animal rights group.
MPI's manager of compliance investigations, Gary Orr, says the inspection was comprehensive.
"The farm has up to approximately 150,000 birds housed in 6 sheds. All aspects of the operation were looked at. These included bird health, mortality rates, removal of dead birds and stocking rates. The operation's manager was fully cooperative throughout and provided all the information we asked for.
"The complainant says she found 10 dead birds in one-quarter of a shed that housed 23,000 birds. That equates to a mortality rate of 0.17% which is significantly lower than the 1% threshold in the minimum standards that triggers an investigation.
"This does not indicate an animal welfare issue. Analysis of the farm's mortality records further confirmed they were operating above the minimum welfare standards."
Mr Orr says MPI also identified that daily dead bird removal happens during the morning checks and that it is not uncommon for mortalities to occur throughout the day given the scale of the operation.
"We also found that bird checks are occurring twice daily which exceeds the minimum standard. The minimum standard states that meat chickens must be inspected at least once daily," says Mr Orr.
"MPI concluded that at the time of inspection, all minimum standards of the Animal Welfare (Meat Chickens) Code of Welfare were met and no animal welfare offences were detected. These were also the findings of the veterinarian who was part of the inspection team."
Mr Orr says the broiler farm has been advised to be more thorough with its checks in relation to the 2 ill or injured birds that were featured in the footage.
He says the birds were most likely inadvertently missed during that day's daily inspection.