Tens of thousands of laying hens were killed in a fire at a chicken farm in Waikato, New Zealand.
The CEO of Zeagold Nutrition, John McKay, told local news that “A supervisor on-site at our farm called the fire department at 7.40am today”
Adding that. “All 12 staff members on site are safe and unharmed,”
Although it was initially thought that as many as 75,000 chickens had perished in the blaze, the number has been lowered to 50,000.
Amid fears that the losses could affect the egg supply in New Zealand McKay said that in “reality is the losses at Orini, represent only 1.4 percent of the layer hen population nationally so while it’s a tragic loss it won’t have a significant impact on egg supply.”
McKay told NewsHub that the New Zealand chicken population is about 3.5 million but described the loss of the birds at Orini farm as “very devastating”.
Five fire engines and three water trucks were dispatched to combat the blaze.
In 2018 50,000 chickens died in a blaze in Auckland with animal rights activists criticising large numbers of chickens being kept in ‘cramped environments indoors’.
Direct Animal Action Spokesperson Deidre Sums commented that when ‘thousands of animals were kept confined indoors they were vulnerable when fires break out’.
Her comments broadcast by local media continued, “This is one of the many reasons we’re calling for an end to massive indoor animal farms like this one at Orini”.
McKay stressed that the barns the chickens were kept in were ‘cage free’ and said they were “fully compliant with animal welfare”