The investigation is still ongoing into what Stanislaus County Animal Services Executive Director Annette Patton called the worst case of animal cruelty the county has ever seen.
A citizen complaint call on Tuesday led to the discovery of an estimated 50,000 hens starving to death at an egg farm off South Carpenter Road.
Patton said a third of the hens were found dead, and most of the rest have been “properly and humanely euthanized.”
“There was a little bit of sunshine yesterday,” Patton said about the 3,500 hens that were sent to rescues, with the majority transported by the Sacramento Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society to Animal Place, a farm rescue in Grass Valley.
The 50,000 hens were left without feed for about two weeks. Patton said her office has been in contact with the owner of the hens, Andy Cheung, and he is cooperating in the investigation. Criminal charges are still pending. Cheung could be charged with animal neglect and animal cruelty, and be held financially responsible for the costs of the clean up.
The effort to deal with the 50,000 hens has involved multiple agencies including the Ag Commission, California Department of Food and Ag, Environmental Protection Agency, Poultry Federation and the Stanislaus County Public Works, among others.
While feed costs have risen lately, Stanislaus County Farm Bureau Governmental Affairs Director Tom Orvis said there is no excuse for starving animals.
“Input costs on the corn and soybeans that make up the base of most feed is extremely high, but that’s no excuse. There’s no excuse for not feeding your animals. There’s a processing plant in Turlock. They could have picked up the phone and said they can’t pay for feed,” Orvis said.
“This is not the way animal agriculture treats its animals. There are always other options.”
To contribute to the care of the rescued hens, visit animalplace.org.