TAMPA (970 WFLA) -- The animal rights group that went undercover at two Okeechobee dairy farms is back with another investigation... this time alleging cruelty to chickens at an egg farm in Lake Wales, with video to support their claims. Richard Couto (KU-toe) with Animal Recovery Mission claims the chickens are cramped together in what are called "battery cages" and left surrounded by waste and covered in cockroaches.
"We are talking about animals defecating for years without being cleared... Millions and millions of cockroaches... the walls were literally moving in front of our investigator," Couto said.
Couto says an undercover operative hired as a caregiver at the Cal-Maine Farm didn't give care... and spent his time picking up the bodies of dead and dying chickens. Couto's group is urging Walmart and Publix to stop buying eggs from the company... and he plans to go to Tallahassee to lobby for laws banning "battery cages" in Florida.
Cal-Maine Foods has issued a statement in which it says the undercover worker "chose to disregard required farm procedures" in order to "misrepresent our efforts in providing proper care for our hens." Cal-Maine says once it received the video, it cooperated fully with the Polk Sheriff's Office and the state agriculture department. Cal-Maine says its eggs are produced in line with guidelines adopted by United Egg Producers, an industry organization.
ARM and Cal-Maine say one worker has been arrested. We are awaiting further information from the Polk Sheriff's Office.
Video courtesy ARM Statement courtesy Cal-Maine Farms
Also link to a story from sister station WIOD in Miami.