In these cramped, windowless sheds, it is impossible for birds to engage in most natural behaviors, like perching or taking dust baths. Living in their own waste, birds in the chicken industry also suffer from respiratory ailments, ammonia burns, and eye irritations.
In 2017, a Compassion Over Killing undercover investigation exposed both egregious abuse and the painful effects of rapid growth in birds at a Virginia contract facility for Tyson Foods, the nation’s largest poultry producer.
Trapped inside their own morbidly obese bodies resulting from Tyson’s genetic manipulation, these baby birds grow so unnaturally large, so quickly, that many can’t even walk as their fragile, underdeveloped legs collapse under their weight. Genetic manipulation can also lead to other ailments, including heart and lung deformities. All of these birds are just babies – Those who survive these nightmarish conditions will be shipped out to slaughter at just 6 weeks old.
“If you want to marvel at how humans can mess with nature, look no further than the modern chicken.”
Birds are packed up and shipped out to slaughter without food, water, or shelter from extreme weather. At the slaughterhouse, they’re dumped onto conveyor belts and shackled upside down by their legs. Nearly all birds are conscious when their throats are cut. With as many as 8,400 birds slaughtered per hour in a single plant, mistakes are common, and many are still conscious as they’re dropped into tanks of scalding water.
A 2018 COK investigation inside an Amick Farms slaughterhouse operating under a dangerous
USDA high-speed slaughter program uncovered sickening abuse: birds being punched, shoved, and thrown down the recklessly fast-paced kill line; birds slowly drowning in the electrified stunning baths during equipment breakdowns; and even footage of “red birds,” with blood visible under their skin–a sign that they were scalded alive.
Most chicken slaughter plants in the US kill up to 140 birds each minute, or more than two birds every single second–and at this already staggering rate, suffering is rampant. Workers are forced to keep birds moving down the rapidly running kill line as quickly as possible, risking their own safety and animal welfare. At even higher speeds of up to 175 birds killed per minute, like at Amick Farms, these extreme dangers are only exacerbated.
Inside Breeder Barns
Because breeder birds must survive to sexual maturity – weeks longer than their rapidly growing bodies have been bred to endure–producers resort to restricting feed or even starving these birds. After COK’s investigation exposed the cruel practice of “boning“, in which a dull plastic rod is stabbed through the nostrils of young male breeder birds to restrict food intake, Tyson immediately announced an end to the practice. Urged by COK, two more top poultry producers quickly followed suit: Perdue Farms and Wayne Farms.