Brothers Gerry and Chris Apostolatos have pleaded guilty to animal cruelty charges after the death of more than 86,000 chickens from starvation and the neglect of thousands more between December 2011 and February 2012.
Over 1 million chickens were found starved and sick at the Apostolatos 6 commercial farms after they simply stopped feeding them when their business, Tip Top Livestock, hit a rough patch.
Animal health officers said the birds were found suffering from distress, feather loss, lameness, malnutrition and infections. Some had even started eating other chickens in order to survive.
The company started having problems after their processing plant was shut down by inspectors due to hygiene violations in November 2011 and they couldn’t slaughter the animals anymore. Their feeding bills and debts started growing and providers started refusing to work with them. Ultimately the chickens paid the price.
Chris Apostolatos had to declare himself bankrupt, the company was liquidated and the surviving chickens were seized.
The Apostolatoses were told in court that if they had gone to the Department of Environment and Primary Industries with their problem the department would have fed the birds themselves.
Chris Apostolatos pleaded guilty to six charges of cruelty and aggravated cruelty and Gerry pleaded guilty to three of the same charges.
They will be sentenced at a later date.