Egg farm video sparks outrage

Footage shot at Ramona egg farm

RAMONA, Calif. - Disturbing video obtained by 10News of a Ramona chicken farm is sparking outrage.

In the nearly three-minute clip, a male worker is seen walking near white pile. The pile is a mound of countless dead hens, and the man wielding a giant stick appears determined to make sure all are dead.

In the video, the worker takes aim and strikes the chickens repeatedly.

A person who lives near the 40-year-old Pine Hill Egg Ranch in Ramona shot the video last week and shared it with 10News.

"This is horrifying," animal rights Bryan Pease said as he watched the video.

When hens' egg-laying rate slows, hens are routinely euthanized on egg farms. In this case, the hens were gassed with carbon dioxide -- an accepted method -- but not all of them died.

In the video, the worker's solution includes chasing a small group of hens and swinging at them with the stick. At the chicken pile, he's seen swinging repeatedly at chickens still moving.

"They've been in pens all of their lives. This is the first time they've felt ground on their feet and felt fresh air, and they're being chased around by workers trying to hack them to death with a stick," said Pease.

After the ranch owners viewed the video, they issued this statement:

"Pine Hill Egg Ranch contracted a third party service company to euthanize the hens. This third party company was repeatedly advised on the legal standard of euthanization. The crew member depicted in the video was acting directly against Pine Hill Egg Ranch policy and his third party company management. This crew member will not be allowed to perform services for Pine Hill Egg Ranch at any time in the future. Pine Hill Egg Ranch is outraged to find out its hens were mistreated by this crew member. Pine Hill Egg Ranch has a zero tolerance policy for animal cruelty in its operations."

"It's horrendous; it's extreme cruelty," said Pease.

But is it criminal?

According to American Veterinary Medical Association guidelines, blunt force trauma is acceptable for euthanizing poultry, but it must be done humanely and applied by competent personnel.

10News showed the video to County Animal Services, and a representative said the behavior is alarming and appears inconsistent with accepted standards.

The representative said Animal Services has started a criminal investigation into the matter.

10News also reached out to Soto's Poultry Service -- the company contracted by the farm -- but did not receive a call back.

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