But these pictures and footage allegedly taken inside a farm which supplies eggs to Australia’s largest producer, has sparked a second investigation into the battery cage facility.
The facility in regional NSW — a contractor to Pace Farm — had a complaint made against it last year and again this year.
WARNING: Graphic images below
The shocking footage shows hens being kept in appalling conditions and has been released exclusively to news.com.au by Animals Australia.
The footage, which was given to the animal rights group anonymously, shows hens surrounded by massive piles of faeces and trapped beneath rows of packed caged hens.
The hens stand on wire mesh, their waste drops below. Picture: Animals Australia
The hens stand on wire mesh, their waste drops below. Picture: Animals Australia Source: Supplied
The video, which the animals rights group says was taken inside the facility this year, also shows birds being kept in overcrowded cages, some with feathers missing.
According to Animals Australia, those trapped below the cages are forced to find food among the huge piles of waste, often eating their own eggs or whatever scraps they can find in the piles of waste which surround them.
Animals Australia has provided news.com.au with a letter its lawyers have sent to the RSPCA regarding both complaints.
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This hen is seen foraging among piles of waste and animal droppings. Picture: Animals Australia Source: Supplied
The first complaint was investigated by RSPCA NSW and the Animal Welfare League NSW and the second is currently being investigated by RSPCA NSW.
According to Pace Farm, the farm at the centre of the allegations is Egg Corp Assured (ECA) under Australian Egg Corporation Ltd’s industry audit program.
This means that: “Consumers can look to ECA as a mark of a quality product produced under strict guidelines.”
A letter given to news.com.au from lawyers acting for Pace Farm, said it was aware of the footage but questioned whether it was taken inside the facility.
Solicitor Stephen Gorry said the footage was simply a deliberate attempt by activists to discredit his client.
Mr Gorry said while the footage, which he says was obtained illegally, was no doubt shocking, the birds had probably been deliberately let out by activists.
“I think it is important to set the record straight in relation to the footage that I and my client can only assume is the same footage we have seen, he said in the letter.
“It is footage that we understand was illegally obtained by Animals Australia or parties associated with it, and which has been supplied in the last few months to many of our client’s major customers, clearly in an attempt to damage the business and reputation of Pace Farm.”
Mr Gorry said many Pace Farm customers who have seen the footage have made their own inquiries and were happy with the answer they received.
“If the footage that you have seen is the same as that seen by us, then you will no doubt be shocked that birds appear to have escaped from their cages,” he said.
“It might sound trite, but cages are meant to keep birds in, and not let them escape.
“It is beyond doubt that activists, either from Animals Australia or some other presumably like minded organisation, have opened cages and allowed birds to escape, with a view to obtaining their preferred (hopefully shocking) footage.”
He added it was difficult to take the word of an organisation whose goal it was to destroy the business and reputation of his client.
Mr Gorry said his client’s contractor complied with all legislation and requirements in terms to bird numbers per cage, which stood at six but would be reduced to five by next year.
“Independent audits and customer audits take place regularly to ensure animal welfare and food safety standards are met,” he said.
But Animals Australia said the footage simply proved egg producers can’t be