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Animal rights groups decry plans for meat industry to cage chickens

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

Animal rights organizations warn that plans to cage chickens for the meat industry — due to form part of the Arrangements Bill that accompanies the state budget — will commit public funds to a project that contravenes prevention of cruelty to animals legislation.

The Agriculture Ministry has been piloting a system that keeps broilers in cages, based on the assertion that the birds can then be transported to the slaughterhouse without being manhandled and therefore suffer less.

It gave the greenlight to a farm to cage its 280,000 heads of poultry as an experiment. Cages are routinely used for laying hens, but to date, have not been used in Israel for broilers.

However, secret footage filmed by animal rights activists at the farm and publicized in September showed workers at a pilot plant pulling the fowl out of the cages, grabbing them by whatever limb came to hand, and hurling them in piles onto conveyor belts that lead to crates for transport.

They did it so quickly that many of the birds fell out of their hands. Others fell off the conveyor belt. The workers could be seen picking them up by their wings or their necks and violently yanking out those that had become stuck on the conveyor belt.

The move is part of a package of reforms to reduce the cost of living.

Calling on the Agriculture Minister to put Israel on the level of other developed nations, a spokesperson for the rights groups Animals Now says, “It’s cruel and irresponsible to build new cages and to allocate public funds to subsidize abuse.”

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