The deaths of 179,000 chickens on a broiler farm in New Zealand, aka Aotearoa were caused by an alarm failure, a recent investigation has uncovered.
According to reports, the birds died from hypothermia after power cuts swept the DB Chicks Limited site in 2019.
It’s understood to be the largest mass agricultural death in Aotearoa’s history.
Chickens dead following power cut
The farm manager was unaware of the power cuts because the alarm had been installed some years prior, the NZ Herald reports.
Concerns led the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to launch an investigation, lasting more than a year. However, the MPI did not pursue prosecution – despite causing controversy among animal rights advocates.
The news outlet obtained an investigation summary, which explains the reasons why the Crown Prosecution Service made that decision.
According to said documents, the deaths were caused by “uncontrolled ambient temperature and humidity in the sheds,” which prevented the backup generator from kicking in.
Because the power cut meant the alarm didn’t go off, the manager was unable to act “until it was too late.”
The MPI concluded that the manager took all reasonable steps to ensure animal welfare was ensured.
New Zealand animal welfare outrage
But animal rights campaigners say it raises “deeply concerning” questions about the country’s animal welfare systems.
In a statement sent to PBN, SAFE for Animals campaigns manager Jessica Chambers exclaimed: “Either MPI’s audit was conducted poorly, or our animal welfare system needs an overhaul.
“Even the most novice internet user knows that a router won’t work without power. If MPI had been thorough, this animal welfare disaster could have been avoided.
“The farm had a responsibility to ensure that these birds were not going to die as a result of hyperthermia and suffocation. And they failed to do that.
“MPI was responsible for ensuring the farm’s equipment was up to standard and they also failed to do so. It’s hard to comprehend that no party here has been held accountable for the loss of nearly 200,000 lives.”