Putrefied corpses, hundreds of cages that were too narrow or without any light… In total, no less than 1,059 offenses had been recorded on this farm in Chambly (Oise) where nearly 200,000 hens lived together. This Thursday, the owners of the Mesnil-Saint-Martin estate farm were sentenced by the Senlis court to 40,000 euros in fines. They are also prohibited from exercising the profession of breeder and keeping animals for three years.
The affair began in December 2020 when the L214 association published a video from inside the poultry farm with 200,000 hens. The farm had been infiltrated by an animal rights activist. After the broadcast of these images, inspectors from the Departmental Directorate for the Protection of Populations (DDPP) came and found traces of salmonella, a bacterium toxic to humans, on the site. The breeders had to slaughter the hens and close the farm.
“A system that is detrimental to animals but also to farmers”
Released from certain offenses – including those relating to traces of salmonella – and the three-month suspended sentence required by the prosecutor Michel Mazars, the breeders were found guilty of breaches of health legislation. As well as the crime of mistreatment of animals. Contacted this Thursday, the L214 association, specializing in the dissemination of these “shock” videos, welcomes a court decision which sends a “strong signal to the sector”. “This leads to an awareness that regulations must be applied in farms and slaughterhouses,” said its spokesperson and co-founder, Brigitte Gothière.
“When we started about ten years ago, this type of case was always closed without further action, she recalls. Today, we see that there is increased attention from the magistrates, with prosecutors carrying out serious investigations and important requisitions. “And to specify that there is” nothing personal “in this file:” We denounce a whole system prejudicial to the animals but also to the breeders, who find themselves pushed into their entrenchment sometimes until indebtedness “.
Absent from the statement of the deliberation, the owners of the farm did not wish to comment. At the hearing on March 24, the husband had notably denounced the attitude of the prefectural services and that of the association, which he accused of having been able to tamper with the images. “We were entitled to an investigation against him,” said the latter. Following the video, the prefecture put pressure on the health services. As for their two lawyers, they could not be reached. The pair of breeders now have ten days to appeal.