Thirteen people arrested at Lakesland chicken farm protest

Activists storming the coop. Picture: Channel 9
Activists storming the coop. Picture: Channel 9

Thirteen protesters have been charged with trespassing and animal cruelty offences following an incident at a chicken farm in Wollondilly yesterday.

A large group of protesters allegedly forced entry to the shed of the chicken farm on Mowbray Road at Lakesland just before 12pm and threatened the owner with bolt cutters.

The group allegedly ignored directions to leave the property and placed chickens in cages before fleeing.

Police also allege “a number” of chickens were injured or killed as a result.

Officers from Camden Police Area Command attended and stopped the protesters as they were leaving.

Police also stopped a Toyota Hilux containing cages of chickens nearby.

Thirteen people – eight women, four men and a 17-year-old girl­ – were arrested and taken to Narellan Police Station.

All 13 were charged with multiple offences including: enter a prescribed premises without lawful excuse; commit an act of cruelty upon an animal; malicious damage; and enter enclosed lands/interfere with conduct of business.

One of the men, aged 46, was also charged with assaulting police, common assault and use of an offensive weapon with intent to commit an indictable offence.

The twelve adults were granted conditional bail to appear at Picton Local Court on August 14.

The 17-year-old girl was granted bail to appear at a children’s court on August 13.

Police inquiries are still ongoing.

The Lakesland farm is currently under investigation by the RSPCA after video footage was released showing hundreds of starving and dead chickens at the chicken farm.

RSPCA inspectors visited the property on Wednesday and Thursday.

The footage posted to social media on Wednesday night showed hundreds of hens crammed into a shed with no access to food or water as well as rotted carcasses of dead chickens.

Hen Rescue NSW campaigners were stationed at the gates to the property from 7am yesterday.

Rescue founder Catherine Kelarher told the Advertiser campaigners hoped the hens would be removed from the property yesterday.

“There’s a small number of us here and we have carriers ready just in case we are able to make a rescue,” she said.

“We hope the RSPCA decides to take action to stop the hens from dying here.

“We’re here to be a voice for the hens and put some pressure on authorities.”

An RSPCA NSW spokeswoman said inspectors were dispatched immediately after they received the “disturbing” video.

“The footage contains a large number of deceased birds and alleged cruelty and we were sickened and saddened at what we saw,” she said.

“RSPCA NSW inspectors attended the property and commenced an investigation, and [yesterday] the investigation continued with inspectors and vets on the ground thoroughly checking the welfare of all animals on site.

“We will provide updates as this investigation continues to unfold.

“Penalties for animal cruelty can be up to $22,000 and five years in jail, or $110,000 for a corporation.”

NSW Police confirmed the animal cruelty investigation was in the hands of the RSPCA.