Reports that hens were left to starve to death at an abandoned organic poultry farm in the Wairarapa are being investigated by the SPCA.
A South Wairarapa District Council manager who visited the Martinborough property says the farm was littered with the carcasses of chickens in varying states of decay.
Glenn Bunny says manure was piled 60cm high in some places and the remaining chickens were in various states of health.
Mr Bunny says the SPCA was slow in responding to the situation.
The council became aware of the situation only last month, and Mr Bunny says by then many chickens had died.
He says an SPCA officer visited the farm in August but did not find anything wrong.
SPCA regional manager Lloyd Warren says the owner of the property, Stephen Gunson, is being investigated.
He says many of the chickens have already been rehoused.