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Cruel hen breeder rejected by giant supermarkets

Two major chain stores in South Africa – Woolworths and Pick 'n Pay - have broken ties with a former provincial agricultural minister's chicken farm because he does not treat his animals ethically, Beeld newspaper reports.

Woolworths and Pick n Pay said they would no longer sell any eggs from hens bred by Jan Serfontein and his son, Jan, on one of the country's 3 biggest chicken farms, Boskop Layer Chickens.

Pick n Pay spokesperson Tamra Veley said the chain store was now demanding written undertakings from their egg suppliers that the hens had been treated "ethically".

Woolworths' food director Julian Novak said it was important that animals be treated "humanely throughout the production process". He said Woolworths egg suppliers had undertaken not to use hens bred by Boskop Layer Chickens.

Reports state that up to 70,000 male birds were dumped in an empty farm dam every week and left to die, because they were "economically worthless".

According to a former Boskop Layer Chicks employee, Kobus van Zyl, this has been going on for the past 70 years, as long as the North West chicken farm has existed.

Natalie Berkhout

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