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Two Groups To Save Starving Hens Found At Central Valley Ranch

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A CBS 5 crew captured footage of hens starving at this ranch near Turlock in Stanislaus County on February 22, 2012. Officials said an estimated 50,000 birds were found starving to death. (CBS)

A CBS 5 crew captured footage of hens starving at this ranch near Turlock in Stanislaus County on February 22, 2012. Officials said an estimated 50,000 birds were found starving to death. (CBS)

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TURLOCK (CBS) — After 50,000 hens were found starving to death at a Central Valley ranch, two rescue groups said they will save some of the birds.

A third of the birds have already died at the ranch which is located near the community of Turlock.

“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 Thursday, 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.

KCBS’ Anna Duckworth Reports:

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 had not been fed for two weeks.

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

The ranch is owned by Andy Keung Cheung. He did not return calls from CBS.

According to Animal Services, the owner 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 Thursday cleaning up and euthanizing some of the sicker chickens. The plan was to dispose of the rest at a nearby landfill.

After the owner’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, referring to the dead birds.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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