Video of chickens barely able to stand up and forced to die on the dirt is far from an accurate picture of what happens in farms, the head of the Poultry Industry Association New Zealand (PIANZ) says.
Animal rights campaign group SAFE shared the video on Tuesday, saying it was shot at a free-range farm in Auckland.
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The footage shows thousands of chickens crammed into a small shed, hardly able to stand up, dying inside the shed and lying there to rot.
Two chickens were found stuck on their backs. SAFE said they rescued the chickens from the farm and rehomed them to a sanctuary.
"While the footage is shocking, what it shows is something that could be found hidden behind the walls of any chicken factory farm in New Zealand," SAFE head of campaigns Marianne Macdonald said.
"Suffering and death are commonplace, which is the result of extreme selective breeding. We call these 'SAD' chickens, because they are sick and deformed. These birds are pushed beyond what their bodies can cope with."
PIANZ executive director disputed the claims saying the footage was old and not indicative of other farms.
"We think this is an effort to give credence to a vegetarian campaign by SAFE and we're disappointed in the practices that have been demonstrated by SAFE.
"We're also disappointed in the one case that's been shown of this of the farming and we would not support that in that isolated incident."
SAFE said in a statement on Tuesday the footage was shot between November 2018 and February 2019. The Ministry for Primary Industries, which looks into farm welfare, said it was made aware of the footage on Tuesday.
"Despite having been taken between several months ago, [SAFE] didn't pass it on to us until we asked for it yesterday," a spokesperson told Newshub.
"We are reviewing the footage to determine if it warrants investigation for breaches of the Animal Welfare Act and/or the relevant Code of Welfare for Meat Chickens. If it does, we will investigate."