WARNING: Disturbing footage
Shocking new footage has emerged of dead and deformed chickens at one of Tegel's chicken farms.
Animal advocacy group Direct Animal Action captured the footage during two visits to the poultry giant's farm near Helensville, with the hope of bringing Tegel's plans for a mega farm in Northland to a halt.
Tegel's application to build the controversial farm at Arapohue, about 12km southeast of Dargaville, has outraged locals, iwi and councils.
The new farm would have the capacity to stock up to 1.3 million chickens in 32 sheds, together with an energy centre that would burn about 40 tonnes of litter daily.
The farm, which Direct Animal Action visited this month, had five sheds, each of them holding around 30,000 chickens.
Spokesperson Deidre Sims told the Herald the sheer scale of animal suffering inside was overwhelming.
"[There were] numerous dead chickens, lame chickens struggling to walk, cannibalised chickens, chickens lying on their backs unable to right themselves and a chicken with a grossly deformed beak that was clearly unable to eat or drink sufficiently."
The Code of Welfare for Meat Chickens states that farmers must go through their sheds daily to remove dead chickens and humanely destroy any suffering, she said.
"What we saw at this farm seemed to show that the farmer is leaving suffering chickens to die slowly and not removing dead bodies in a timely manner."
Sims reported what they found to the Ministry for Primary Industries, which then confirmed it would be sending an inspector and an avian specialist vet along to the farm on Friday.
MPI has confirmed the surprise inspection took place but wouldn't comment further.
A statement issued by Tegel Foods Limited said the company and its farmers were "committed to the highest standards of animal welfare".
"We are very concerned about an alleged break-in and biosecurity breach on one of our farmer's properties. As we have not seen any video footage we are unable to comment further at this time."
The hearing of Tegel's application by four independent commissioners, which had been set down to start on August 8, was this week suspended until further notice. The poultry giant requested to put it off so it could gather further evidence to back its plans.
Sims said it's clear Tegel is "running scared".
"They're going to re-strategise and come back with a different tactic but we'll be ready and waiting along with the locals to oppose them."
Both the Northland Regional Council and the Kaipara District Council have this week recommended that Tegel's application be rejected by the independent commissioners.
In his report, NRC consultant Ruben Wylie said the proposed odour discharge had the potential to result in significant adverse effects on neighbouring property owners.
That conclusion, he said, had been formed due to the uncertainty surrounding the likely odour emission rates discharged from the poultry sheds.
KDC reporting planner David Badham reached similar views, saying the level of odour would be unacceptable to a number of people who have not provided their written approval for the chicken farm.
Kaipara locals are planning to head to Auckland and stage a protest outside Tegel's head office on August 8.