Shocking Undercover Footage Exposes Cruelty At High-Speed Chicken Slaughter Plant

Workers can be seen punching, shoving or throwing birds. The footage also documents birds slowly drowning in stunning baths
Chickens on a high speed slaughter line
Chickens on the high speed slaughter line (Photo: Jonathan Rosenberry)

US non-profit animal advocacy Compassion Over Killing (COK) has released harrowing footage of abhorrent cruelty on a high-speed slaughterhouse at Arnick Farms in Maryland filmed by an undercover investigator.

COK has been exposing farm animal cruelty and promoting vegan eating since the mid-90s. Back in 2015, a COK investigator went to work inside Quality Pork Processors – a high-speed, USDA-inspected pig slaughterhouse – and witnessed animals being shocked, dragged and pulled onto the killing floor, as well as pigs 'covered in feces and pus-filled abscesses processed for human consumption with a USDA seal of approval.'

In a similar investigative vein, the non-profit is now exposing the horrors of a chicken slaughter line.

Undercover in the house of horrors

Birds raised for human consumption already suffer 'filthy, overcrowded conditions as well as the crippling effects of being genetically manipulated for unnatural rapid growth.' The increased slaughter line speeds only add to this suffering.

The COK investigator's hidden camera footage exposes the heart-in-mouth horrors from a high-speed poultry slaughter line inside Arnick Farms in Maryland.

Workers can be seen punching, shoving or throwing birds in order to keep the slaughter line running at full tilt. Images of red birds – with blood under their skin evident – are said to reveal that they were scalded alive in electrified stunning baths. The footage also documents birds slowly drowning in these stunning baths during an equipment breakdown.

"Birds can be seen – still hanging from the shackles – in the water bath... it is likely that the birds would have experienced prolonged, possibly painful electrical shock while they died of drowning," commented animal welfare and behavior specialist Dr. Sara Shields on reviewing the undercover footage. "This situation is totally unacceptable from an animal welfare perspective."

GRAPHIC: The slaughter process is extremely traumatic for the animals

Arnick responds


In a statement to the Washington Post, which broke the story, Arnick's Ben Harrison said: "Some of the actions in the video are clear violations of our animal welfare policies and our company values.

"We are taking all appropriate actions including, but not limited to, further training, swift disciplinary action, and a more rigorous approach to ensuring compliance with our policies for the humane handling of our birds."

COK says that the chicken slaughter plant is one of 20 given USDA permission to run line speeds at 175 birds per minute. Four more plants have recently been given waivers to increase line speeds from 140 birds per minute to 175.

You can help

Compassion Over Killing has already delivered a petition against high-speed pig slaughter to the agency containing more than a quarter of a million signatures, and has now launched one to halt high-speed chicken slaughter.

"USDA’s plan to allow even more slaughterhouses to increase kill line speeds that are already dangerously fast is a reckless step backwards," said COK's Executive Director Erica Meier. "Animals, workers, and consumers need more protection, not less."

Meanwhile, the USDA has received over 83,500 comments from the public about its high-speed slaughter program.

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