WARNING – DISTRESSING CONTENT: Shocking footage has emerged which appears to show workers at one of Australia’s largest egg producers kicking, throwing and abusing hens.
The secret recordings were reportedly filmed by animal rights activists in April and May at Victoria’s Bridgewater Poultry farm.
Bridgewater Poultry sells eggs under the Loddon Valley Eggs, Victorian Fresh Eggs and Country Fresh Eggs labels.
The company had until recently been a supplier to Woolworths and Coles until the supermarket giants pulled the producer from its shelves when a product recall was issued amid a salmonella outbreak at the farm.
The video, obtained by activists Animal Liberation, appears to show a handful of workers throwing and kicking live chickens across the room. Workers can be seen slamming live birds onto the concrete floor.
"I hate it when their heads come off," one worker is heard saying in the clip.
"Yeah it feels good, look," a colleague replied.
One woman worker tells a male worker, "Oh you're cruel”, but the man only laughs in amusement.
Coles and Woolworths both confirmed to The Age they stopped stocking Bridgewater Poultry eggs in March.
"Woolworths takes Animal Welfare incredibly seriously and works with its suppliers to uphold the highest standards,” the supermarket reportedly said in a statement.
“We currently do not source eggs from Bridgewater Poultry farm. We will provide any assistance required as the authorities investigate this matter."
Abuse of hens blamed on contractors
In a statement the company said it was "saddened and deeply appalled by the apparent conduct of employees", adding that it was not condoned, approved or permitted in any way.
"Bridgewater Poultry Farm will work with the Victorian government and all relevant authorities over the coming days to identify any shortcomings in the treatment of stock and the reasons for them."
Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes called for action.
"The footage that I've seen warrants an investigation," she told reporters on Tuesday.
"The overwhelming majority of farmers and people in the livestock industry care very deeply for their animals and when this type of footage emerges it undermines the good work that they do."
Bridgewater Poultry has urged Animal Liberation to provide the raw, unedited and unmodified footage to Victoria Police or the Department of Primary Industries for investigation.
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