The flock of hens at a Lakesland chicken farm have been euthanised after a lengthy animal cruelty investigation.
RSPCA inspectors visited the Wollondilly chicken farm regularly after a “disturbing” video was released on June 20.
An RSPCA spokeswoman said expert veterinarians and an industry consultant attended the property with inspectors throughout the investigation.
“Having found symptoms signs of potential notifiable diseases, samples were taken, and tests were conducted by both vets,” she said.
“Due to the potential of contagious notifiable diseases, biosecurity protocols were instilled.
“Both the Local Land Services veterinarian, and the avian expert veterinarian on separate occasions collected and sent samples for testing.
“Results were received from both indicating that the flock was positive for Infectious Laryngotracheitis (ILT) - a highly contagious, respiratory disease caused by a herpesvirus.
“ILT does not pose a risk to human health, however it has a mortality rate of up to 70 per cent in poultry.
“ILT has a rapid spread, and symptoms were present in the vast majority of the flock.
“There is no cure for infected birds and they will be carriers of the disease for life.”
The owner of the birds gave permission to Local Land Services (LLS) for the euthanasia of the flock.
This was carried out by a private contractor on behalf of the owner.
The RSPCA spokeswoman said a number of birds were seized early in the inquiry under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and remained central to the animal cruelty investigation.
“The owner of the hens remains under investigation by RSPCA NSW for multiple alleged serious animal cruelty offences,” she said.
“While we understand it can be frustrating, it takes time for a robust animal cruelty case to be built and veterinary and other evidence must be compiled.
“The RSPCA does not have the power to simply shut an agricultural enterprise down.
“In serious animal cruelty prosecutions the RSPCA does seek prohibition orders to stop people convicted of these offences from owning animals again, and in many cases the court makes the orders sought.”