TURLOCK (CBS13) — Thursday afternoon finally produced some good news after what has been such a heart-wrenching story when 50,000 chickens were left starving to death at a ranch outside Turlock.

A third of the birds have already died, and it was feared the rest would be euthanized, but instead thousands will be saved.

“We’re going to help load them up to the rest of the agencies that are here,” said Annette Patton, executive director of Stanislaus County Animal Services.

After waiting all day, two animal rescue groups finally got the news they were hoping to hear.

“We’re thrilled to know they’re going to let us in and save several thousand birds,” said Kimberly Sturla of Animal Place.

Crews loaded chickens healthy enough to save into trucks.

“We’re going to give them another chance at life,” Sturla said.

Authorities were called to the ranch on Tuesday after someone nearby complained about the smell. When Animal Services arrived, they found that the chickens hadn’t been fed for two weeks and already a third of those chickens had died.

“When you walk in there, there are birds deceased everywhere,” Patton said.

The owner of the ranch is named Andrew Keung Chung. He didn’t return calls from CBS13, but Animal Services says he ran out of money to feed the chickens. He could face animal cruelty charges.

“There was contact with the owner today,” Patton said. “He was very cooperative and moving things along smoothly.”

County workers were at the ranch all day Thursday cleaning up and euthanizing some of the sicker chickens. The plan was to dispose of the rest at a nearby landfill.

But once Keung Chung’s attorney signed over ownership of the healthy chickens to the county, they were allowed to be handed over to the rescue groups.

“I think it’s heart-wrenching for anybody if you could see inside there,” Sturla said of all the dead birds.

Comments (318)
  1. Mark Christopher says:

    Just have the OWS bunch shipped in from prison so they can clean and eat them…

  2. Mark Christopher says:

    Why did the chicken cross the road?

    Because the farmer was out of money, and couldn’t feed them. So they went over to the neighbors house to find some scratch.

  3. Ben Miller says:

    Those chickens were going to be killed and eaten, perhaps by many of the people posting here. Yes, it’s sad the they were tortured with no food, but to rush to save their lives so we can later kill them and eat them is silly.

    1. Kristin says:

      No one will be killing or eating these hens. They will live out their lifespans and be treated with kindness.

  4. 4grandma says:

    “We going to give the chickens a second chance at life”…..so we can eat them later?

    1. TheRealKingMax says:


      McDonalds has bought the whole lot of ’em, dead and alive.

      Watch for a big sale on Chicken McNuggets…. ummmmmmmm, yum!

      1. hamiltonian says:

        This article is making me McHungry. The three groups that adopted these chickens were Texas Pete, Tabasco and Franks Hot Sauce. I hear they are going to be testing their products. http://survive-2012-no-matter-what.blogspot.com

      2. Heather says:

        You are Mcignorant….Got stuff your face with that goodness and die of cancer..Good luck!!

    2. Jennifer says:

      No, they are now being treated at local animal sanctuaries, including Animal Place quoted in this article, that value the inherent right of these animals to live out their lives in peace. These are vegan organizations which do not view other sentient creatures as food. Some chickens will be adopted out to families who will care for these birds as pets.

      1. ditchdigger2 says:

        As long as there are no taxpayer funds involved, go for it.

    3. tara says:

      They were taken by a rescue group, so no, they will not be eaten later.

    4. Christy Sablan says:

      No, they went to three different farm animal sanctuaries to live out the rest of their lives.

    5. Heywood Jablome says:

      What do you expect from a dude who’s people eat cats and dogs, tears for chickens?

    6. Eva says:

      Well, actually, the groups that are taking them are committed to promoting a healthy, vegan, cruelty free lifestyle. I love my cats, and cats eat chicken, But, we humans have free choice, and we can choose not to eat animals and not to inflect pain on feeling creatures. There are so many healthy delicious eating options that don’t require the consumption of meat and the exploitation of animals. I think think the real question is: Could you kill an animal with your own bare hands for the purpose of eating it? If you cannot commit that action, then you have no business eating meat.
      I could never hunt an animal for food (unless my family were starving). But I have more respect for a hunter that kills his own meal, than I do for the average citizen who buys a steak packaged in plastic and has no perception of the horrors of a slaughterhouse.

      1. pat says:

        Brining one of my meat birds right now. Lovely roaster, six months old, seven pounds when I dressed him out. Delish!

      2. Last American Standing says:

        This is the kind of stupid gibberish that makes me glad America is going the way of Greece.

      3. arnoldripkin says:

        Not only do cats eat canned meat but kill large numbers of birds, lizards, and small animals not for food but for fun when you let them”out”. I have slaughtered animals for food and have no regrets. Humans need the protein in meat and there is nothing wrong with killing them when they were bred specifically for that purpose. How any vegan could own a meat eating pet is the epitome of hypocrisy.

      4. Heather says:

        So you know, there is protein in many, many natural foods..You do not need meat!! You choose to eat it. That is all. Humans are weak

      5. Mike0oSS says:

        I’m pretty stout Heather, and I eat a lot of meat.

    7. bitters says:

      Why didn’t he just turn them loose?,,you know, as in ‘free range’ chickens..They’re actually pretty good at foraging..Predators would get some but it would be superior to dying of hunger..

  5. smokeymtnclimber says:

    Why is this man going to be charged with animal cruelty? He quit feeding the chickens because he was broke. Should he have starved himself so that he could feed the chickens? And who cares about the chickens? They are chickens. Its not like he owned a bunch of puppies or horses and quit feeding them out of spite. He is a poor man who could no longer afford to take care of his equipment (chickens).

    1. tara says:

      There were things that he could have done well before starving these animals. Chickens feel as much pain as any human, puppy or horse. What you are suggesting, that chickens are nothing but equipment, shows that you not fit for commenting on anything that has to do with life. You are conditioned by apathetic and pathetic society, way to go.

    2. Jennifer says:

      Wow, your comment makes me incredibly sad. “Equipment”?? These are sentient, intelligent, inquisitive creatures who have emotions and feel pain. They are NO different to “puppies and horses” in this regard. The reason this happened is exactly the sentiment that you express, however – a society that views animals merely as economic commodities; and one which glorifies violence over compassion. Starving these birds was unequivocally animal cruelty; if he could no longer afford to feed the chickens, he should have reached out to these animal sanctuaries in the first place. His callousness, and yours, is absolutely astounding.

      1. Shelby says:


    3. Heather says:

      How ignorant are you? A horse is a dog is a chicken!! They all feel the same thing!! People like you are the reason our race is FAILING!!

      1. stopthe says:

        Can you blame him? If it’s legal to throw a newborn in a bucket to die, why not starve a few chickens?

        You can’t have it both ways, people. Either you respect all life, or you respect no life. And our culture does not respect life. If you want abortion on demand, then either figure out a way to make that philosophically tenable (so far, no one has) or else don’t complain when no one cares about a bunch of starving chickens.

  6. Teresa says:

    Sopwth: check your own spelling, hon. It sucks.

  7. Royd says:

    Let’s follow this story to its logical conclusion, and don’t just leave the blame with the owner. The story actually starts with govt/ environmental regs, which restrict our access to drilling for oil and gas. After that, it’s a financiallly devastating sunami, which affects the price of everything and the lives of everyone.

    Not to mention that it is Cal. and how many onerous fees and regulations have been levied against the business, before it ever got off the ground.

    So, all you whining animal righters, who are givin’ them chickens some luv, take twenty of them home, and find out what your feed bill is, in a month.

    1. Mike says:

      Exactly. Also, small farmers are forced to tag all their chickens at great expense, whereas the the mega-corporations, like Tyson, are exempt.
      This is how the government works- legislating away the competition for big business.

      1. Lou says:

        That’s “Egg-cactly” Mike!

    2. Jennifer says:

      Royd, the thing you’re missing is that there are some of us who think the story actually starts with a society that views raising animals only to kill them as an acceptable business. One that views animals as economic commodities, not as the sentient living creatures that they are. Regulations on farms that profit off of animals — which frankly do not go far enough to ensure the basic needs of these animals are met — would not need to exist if people did not engage in exploitation and violence as a business practice in the first place. As for Mike’s mention of Tyson’s exemptions, you’re going to find that with any corporation vs small business story. In this case, the real story is that chicken slaughter exists as a business at all, and the consumers who support it.

      1. Deigh says:

        Jennifer, are you saying it’s wrong to eat chickens and other animals?

      2. deigh says:

        Jennifer, are you saying we shouldn’t eat chickens or other animals?

    3. Databyter says:

      Good points Royd. Maybe if farmers and industry in general were not the victims of an increasingly socialist and corrupt government, the mans business would have been cheaper to run, and had more business. The American Dream is sick, because government has been transformed from the entity that ensures fairness and equality to a giant parasitic growth that punishes industry and commerce.

    4. Heather says:

      Um!! Hello Mr. Smartie guy!! I hope to see the day when you ignorant humans are no longer the supposed suoerior species! Then a big ass alien stuffs you and yours in a cage and eats your sister for dinner!!

  8. domenico dario says:


    1. proudnot2bliberal says:

      Rev Wright aka obomie the commies best bud, is that you???? Youre just upset becasue youre a turkey & the chickens are your cousins

  9. Winkycat says:

    The sad issue is that we have stripped the chicken of it’s natural colors. A normal wild hen is brown in color and can avoid predators, The rooster like the Turkey is a splendidly colored bird who too has colors that give it camouflage. The reason I write this is that farmer could have released them into the wild where they would have had a chance to survive if they had their original colors. Now both Turkey and Chicken are uniformly colored white.

  10. Mike says:

    Because you said so?

  11. Shelby says:

    Can I get in on this?

    I think everyone’s spelling is generally awsome! Let’s just try to focuss on the content of the messages.

  12. TMA1 says:

    First – follow the money………1,000 to 1 the government is responsible for the debt this farmer incured so that he could no longer feed the chickens. You know the government you trun to for your money that they took from the farmer.
    That money!

  13. Holly says:

    That is exactly what I thought when I read this article 4grandma

  14. Paul says:

    Anyone mention MF Global? Corizine and his buddy Jamie Dimon at JP Morgan stole $1,600,000,000 of customer money – much of that from farmers. You are going to see more stories like this as farmers go broke from the theft of their money by these banksters. In addition, you will see higher food prices if not outright shortages, as many farmers do not have the money (because of this theft) to buy the seed for the new crop plantings now.

  15. MarjiB says:

    Thanks for the story! And thank you to the compassionate commenters who realize that starving hens deserve kindness and respect too…and that does not generally involve eating them!

    Anyone interested in actually helping the chickens can visit our website: animalplace.org and donate or volunteer. This is the largest farm animal rescue in California history and it was only made possible because people cared.

    The hens are now settling in and enjoying their new life. They saw the sun for the first time and felt grass beneath their toes. Their eyes have gone from deadened to interested and full of life. If anyone has ever spent meaningful time with a few individual hens, they would know chickens are as engaging and entertaining as dogs and cats. It is only our perception of them that differs.

    1. Provoked says:

      Thank you Animal Place for making this amazing rescue happen!

    2. pat says:

      They could feed lots of hungry people

  16. caren says:

    Thanks to all who took the time to contribute to saving the lives of these precious animals!

    Bless you!

    1. Dawn says:

      Yes, Happy ending. May this be an example.

  17. katie young says:

    I work for an animal rescue group in Minneapolis, and we deal primarily with hens and roosters. I can tell you, from the experiences I’ve had over the years with these beautiful beings, my heart is filled to bursting with happiness and gratitude for the kind folks who are giving these girls a chance at a happy life. Chickens are highly intelligent creatures and make great companions. I have several, who along with my cats, make my life wonderful.

  18. heidi lavitt says:

    Thank you to those who have shown kindness and compassion by not only rescuing these poor souls but commenting in a way that shows you are human… only chickens? they feel pain and suffering….

  19. Christy Sablan says:

    I am so happy that the Animal Sanctuaries now have the chickens that have survived this horrific situation. They now have a chance at living the kind of life all chickens should be living….outside, in social groups, plenty of fresh food and compassion. They are living beings that are very intelligent and deserve a peaceful life.

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