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Kuna ostrich farm responds to allegations of animal mistreatment

Posted at 8:33 PM, May 28, 2024

KUNA, Idaho — American Ostrich Farms in Kuna was accused of animal mistreatment by a former employee. Pictures alleging abuse were published by PETA, prompting an investigation by the Idaho State Department of Agriculture (ISDA).

  • The investigation by the Idaho Department of Agriculture can be found below.
  • Idaho News 6 reached out to PETA for a statement regarding the ISDA inspection, their full statement can be found below.

(Below is the transcript from the broadcast story)

At any given time, you'll find more than a thousand ostriches at American Ostrich Farms in Kuna, where photos reportedly taken by a former employee started circulating online, alleging the farm was mishandling and abusing its livestock.

I took those claims straight to the farm's founder and CEO, Alex McCoy.

"We heard that a former disgruntled employee made up a bunch of things about how we were treating our animals poorly and we responded to those allegations. And, in fact, denied that they were not true,” says McCoy.

The pictures were published by PETA, prompting an investigation by the Idaho State Department of Agriculture.

"And they came out and gave us a clean bill of health and said you guys are doing awesome and your animals look happy and healthy,” added McCoy.

I got a copy of that inspection report from March 13th that shows they, “did not find any sick or injured animals on site at the time of the visit” and that the investigator “observed no evidence of abuse or mishandling of the birds”.

ISDA report of American Ostrich Farms
ISDA report of American Ostrich Farms.

"The inspector told us he thought our place looked fantastic and usually when they go out and do these things, they find some issues. They find some animals that are down or having issues and they didn't find any of that here, like not a single animal was in bad condition. He said that he thought that was fantastic and we, of course, were not surprised to hear that, but we're glad to see him out here nonetheless,” says McCoy.

I reached out to PETA for a statement regarding the inspection. They responded saying that the inspector “briefly inspected American Ostrich Farms two weeks after a whistleblower first posted their claims on social media — giving the facility ample time to clean up and prepare for an inspection.”

PETA statement on American Ostrich Farms
PETA statement on American Ostrich Farms.

The whistleblower complaint also contained pictures of injured animals, which McCoy says is unfortunately, occasionally, part of the process.

"When you have thousands of animals, inevitably some are going to not be able to be treated and some will, unfortunately, pass away before they make it to slaughter and so it's very easy for an employee, former employee, that has ill intent to take pictures or generate pictures or generate content that makes us look bad,” says McCoy.

He tells me that keeping his livestock healthy is good for business.

"Ostriches are similar to any other livestock, and the nicer you are to them, the better you treat them, the more ethically the more humane you handle them, the happier and healthier they're gonna be. The happier and healthier the livestock, the more money we make, right? So we are very well aligned, both the interest of the company and the interest of the animals couldn't be more aligned,” added McCoy.