MANHEIM, Pa. — The national animal rights organization Humane Society of The United States has released a video alleging animal abuse at Kreider Farms in Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County, and is calling upon the farm to support federal layer legislation the farm’s president says he already supports.
HSUS released the video April 12, showing scenes of dead and dying birds it says were neglected and overcrowded, with some birds trapped in cages.
The organization alleges the following key issues with the farm:
Birds were severely overcrowded in cages more cramped than the national average;
Injured and dead hens, including mummified bird carcasses, were found inside cages with living hens laying eggs for human consumption.
Hens were left without water for days when a water source malfunctioned, causing many to die.
Hens’ legs, wings and heads were found trapped in cage wires and automated feeding machinery.
HSUS claims Kreider Farms is one of the few egg producers in the U.S. that doesn’t support proposed federal legislation known as the Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2012 (H.R. 3798), aimed at improving conditions for laying hens. The bill is supported by HSUS and United Egg Producers.
Kreider Farms President and CEO Ron Kreider said the farm already supports the legislation, and is a national leader in transferring to modern cages.
“Kreider Farms is not a member of UEP, but we fully support such legislation,” Kreider said. “More regulation would actually benefit Kreider Farms; with our state-of-the-art facilities, we would have the least to do to comply.”
Kreider said his farm is “leading the industry” by tearing down old, traditional-style egg houses and replacing them with “new, state-of-the-art facilities.”
More than 80 percent of the farm’s chickens are said to be housed in larger, modern cages.
The farm also says the video was edited and spliced to produce the effects the activists wanted.
“The allegations by HSUS are a gross distortion of Kreider Farms, our employees and the way we care for our birds,” Kreider said in prepared statement.
Kreider said the accusations resulted in three “official, spontaneous inspections” of the farm’s chicken houses on April 11, including from Dr. Gregory Martin from Penn State University, Dr. Donna Kelly from the University of Pennsylvania, and Dr. Craig Shultz, Pa. Department of Agriculture veterinarian.
“All three inspections provided us with a ‘clean bill of health.”
Tom Beachler, vice president of operations for the farm, said it’s no coincidence HSUS produced the video during a political debate over the legislation.
“It’s just a total fabricated piece by an intruder,” he said. “It’s their classic method, falsifying … and trying to make a story.”
He said he’s not opposed to the agreement, but looking at what just happened to his own farm, he wonders whether it will resolve anything for farmers.
“The issue I have is whether it’s actually going to cause a peaceful future,” he said.
The Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2012 would phase in new housing systems for hens over the next 15 to 18 years, providing them far more space and ensuring that cages contain environmental enrichments such as perches and nesting areas, according to HSUS.
The act has more than 50 co-sponsors in the House, according to HSUS, and has also been reportedly endorsed by the American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Avian Pathologists, Consumer Federation of America, National Consumers League, some state egg and poultry associations, and animal welfare groups.