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News 1091 views update:Jan 11, 2010

SA Poultry Association suspends Boskop Layer farm

The farmer who allegedly let thousands of day-old rooster chicks die in a cement dam is now alleging that he used exhaust gases from an engine to kill the chicks.

In response to this, the South African Poultry Association (SAPA) suspended the membership of Boskop Layer Chickens (BLC). This business belongs to Jan Serfontein, a former provincial minister of agriculture.

The accepted method of gassing day-old rooster chicks is to use carbon dioxide (CO2). Earlier, Serfontein couldn't prove that he had bought CO2. He subsequently claimed he used carbon monoxide (CO) from an engine, Beeld newspaper reported on Monday.

On Sunday afternoon, Kevin Lovell, SAPA's CEO, said the association had decided to suspend BLC's membership after a preliminary investigation. According to Lovell, SAPA was currently cleaning up the industry, and was now writing new codes of conduct and involving the producer, the board of veterinarians, the NSPCA and the retail sector.

"This alleged incident pointed out mistakes, and we've learnt lessons from those mistakes," said Lovell.
In future, veterinarians would also be looking at animal welfare aspects, and not only at the diseases which could break out in breeding coups, he said.

Boskop Layer Farms recently made news headlines when it was alleged Serfontein allegedly threw up to 70 000 day-old rooster chicks per week into an old cement dam on the farm. Apparently they were left there to die of exposure. According to a former employee, it sometimes took up to five days for some of the chicks to die.

A police spokesperson from Potchefstroom said the case of animal abuse had been transferred to the unit for organised crime. The spokesperson said the case would now be investigated "independently" and "without the danger of possible interference" at a higher level.

Natalie Berkhout

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