Undercover video leads to charges against chicken farm worker

— Video of chickens being kicked, thrown and stomped led to the arrest Tuesday of an employee at a Rockingham chicken farm and a call from animal rights group Mercy for Animals for changes at the farm, which supplies birds sold under the Perdue label.

Mercy for Animals released the video Thursday, and organization president Nathan Runkle said, “Extreme cruelty to animals is business as usual at Perdue.”

Danny Cajija Miranda, 22, was charged with four counts of animal cruelty and was held under a $10,000 bond at the Richmond County jail.

Miranda works at Deese Farm and Hideaway Farms, both contractors for Perdue.

Runkle used the arrest to pressure Perdue to “end many of the worst forms of animal abuse and neglect in its supply chain.”

Mercy for Animals said the most recent video shows “birds kicked like footballs, thrown against walls and violently stomped to death by callous workers.”

Perdue spokeswoman Julie DeYoung thanked the animal-rights groups for “uncovering clear animal abuse” and said it shows the company needs to “improve our oversight, training and practices around day-to-day care of our animals.”

“As a company, Perdue is committed to continuous improvement, and as with our journey toward being the leader in No Antibiotics Ever, we are actively seeking to improve the way we raise chickens,” DeYoung said in a statement. “We recently created a new vice president-level position within company, Chief Animal Welfare Officer and Farm Family Advocate … to improve animal care and to develop closer relationships with the farmers who care for those animals.”

State lawmakers in June approved legislation over Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto that will soon make undercover videos such as those taken by Mercy for Animals harder to obtain.

Dubbed an “ag-gag” measure by its critics, the law gives businesses the right to sue employees who expose trade secrets or take pictures of their workplaces. It takes effect Jan. 1.

,Video of chickens being kicked, thrown and stomped led to the arrest Tuesday of an employee at a Rockingham chicken farm and a call from animal rights group Mercy for Animals for changes at the farm, which supplies birds sold under the Perdue label.

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