If it's been too long since your last undercover-video-of-ghastly-animal-abuse fix, then check outthe footage
cited in this lawsuit concerning the Cal-Maine egg farm in Travis County.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund is suing the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, the Texas Department of State Health Services, and the Texas Department of Agriculture, accusing the officials of allowing Cal-Maine to essentially run a birdshit-covered cesspool of disease and animal cruelty. (The linked KXAN story contains a link to the lawsuit.)
Filed on behalf of some folks who live near the facility, the suit comes on the heels of a Humane Society video, purportedly of the Cal-Maine facility in question, of hens crammed together in tight cages often containing rotting corpses of their fallen comrades. As alleged in the lawsuit (and video), some hens were "suffering from severe and bloody uterine prolapses [and] hens covered in feces from birds in cages above them." (The plaintiffs allege that the conditions inside the plant might harm their health, which seems pretty weak...but still, that goddamn video!).
Hair Balls generally can't muster much feeling one way or another regarding chickens/hens/turkeys, which seem less like animals to us than dinner-waiting-to-happen. However, being human beings with at least a modicum of conscience, we hate to see any sentient beings kept in the conditions depicted in the video.
A director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund told KXAN the organization had previously sent "demand" letters to the Texas agencies named in the suit, but only heard back from the Texas Animal Health Commission, which stated it did not have jurisdiction.
Neither Cal-Maine's spokeswoman nor the Waelder facility's general manager were available for comment Tuesday, but the company previously posted a response to the Humane Society's video, stating in part that its facilities "are operated in full compliance with existing environmental, health and safety lawsm and regulations and permits....All of Cal-Maine Foods' eggs are produced in accordance with United Egg Producers (UEP) animal care guidelines....The guidelines place top priority on the comfort, health and safety of the chickens."
Which, given the content of the video, seems to be a pre-existing non-statement that some long-forgotten Cal-Maine flack spewed out before the advent of tiny surveillance cameras that could be smuggled into a facility by some bleeding-heart chicken-lover. Like Richard Pryor said: "Who you gonna believe -- me or your lying eyes?"
C'mon, Cal-Maine. You can do better.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.