R. v. Maple Lodge Farms, 2013 ONCJ 535

Maple Lodge Farms was charged on two separate informations, totalling 60 counts. The first Information, which was sworn on January 27, 2010, has 38 counts. On July 14, 2010, a second Information was sworn in with 22 counts. Counsel and the judge presiding over the Judicial Pre-Trial agreed that two representative counts would be tried together first, in order to aid the process of adjudicating or resolving the other 58 counts. On the first Information, the two representative counts are 7 and 34. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency keeps a contingent of inspectors and veterinarians on site to ensure compliance with the Health of Animals Act and its Regulations.

This case involved both factual and credibility determinations, as well as the application of the law in accordance with the Health of Animals Act and its regulations involving the conditions of fowl transportation to Maple Lodge Farms for slaughter. The decision made it clear that it was not about whether or not society should slaughter a chicken for food production or the methods used, but solely concerned with the humane transportation and treatment of two species of chicken en route to and at the slaughter facility on two separate winter dates.

The evidence of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency inspector and veterinarian is deemed credible and reliable by the Court in accepting Dr. Appelt’s expert opinion, which was supported by other witnesses.

The Court was convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that broiler birds were loaded for transport on an exceptionally bad weather day and that the defendant knew or should have known that the birds could become wet as snow and ice accumulated and came up off the highway and into the bottom crate area, which took the brunt of the frigid air. Furthermore, some of the birds on the top layer were wet during the loading process due to blowing snow, as the driver later told the Canadian Food Inspection Agency inspector. Both of these conditions made life impossible for many of the affected birds, therefore unnecessary suffering occurred.

Maple Lodge Farms was found guilty.