workplace giving

Cal-Cruz Hatcheries Investigation

Using a hidden camera, a COK investigator documented shocking abuses forced upon newly-hatched chicks and ducklings while employed at Cal-Cruz Hatcheries in 2009. The video evidence was immediately turned over to the Santa Cruz County Animal Services Authority and the District Attorney’s Office. In response, a follow-up investigation conducted by humane law enforcement not only corroborated our evidence of abuse and neglect but also resulted in the impoundment of 88 ducklings.

Compassion Over Killing immediately took legal action against Cal-Cruz Hatcheries.

Represented by Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), COK finalized a settlement and court order resolving the lawsuit that alleged widespread animal abuse and neglect at Cal-Cruz Hatcheries, Inc. We argued the evidence documented in COK’s undercover video of the hatchery constituted unlawful animal cruelty, in violation of the California Business and Professions Code, undermining the integrity of the market. This settlement marks the first time allegations of animal cruelty were successfully resolved using this civil law.

The parties have issued a joint statement clarifying that this settlement resolves “all claims relating to an unfair business practices lawsuit based on alleged animal cruelty at the hatchery.” Key points include:

  • Cal-Cruz Hatcheries is no longer in operation, closed a few months ago, and has therefore agreed to no longer own, keep possess, or have custody of any animal.”
  • Hatchery owner “Brian Collins has agreed that he will not be in any way legally responsible for the welfare of animals in a commercial setting for five years.”

The defendants have also agreed to pay a portion of plaintiff’s attorneys’ fees, and, according to a court order, Collins is permanently banned from treating animals as depicted in COK’s video.

This groundbreaking case paves a new way to seek—and achieve—justice for abused farmed animals. While our work is never done, we can breathe a sigh of relief knowing this definitively ensures the end of animal suffering at this factory farm.

Case Timeline


Inside the Hatchery

While employed as a maintenance worker at California-based Cal-Cruz Hatcheries Inc. for nearly a month in 2009, COK’s investigator witnessed and painstakingly documented miserable conditions forced upon thousands of newly hatched birds, including:

  • A chick drowning in a bucket of liquid waste
  • Birds entangled in machinery, their dead bodies mangled, decapitated, or missing limbs
  • Sick or severely injured birds left to suffer for hours
  • Unwanted hatchlings dumped down the egg shell disposal chute, then sprayed with a high-pressure hose
  • Birds thrown five to six feet across the room into buckets where they often languished for hours