New undercover video documents factory farm chicken abuse

May 7, 2008

Mercy for Animals, an animal protection organization, has just released a hidden-camera video that shows chickens being mistreated by handlers and birds left with untreated wounds in crowded cages.

Recorded early 2008 at Gemperle Enterprises, a supplier to NuCal Foods Inc., the largest distributor of shell eggs in the Western US, the video reveals:

  • Rotting carcasses in cages with live hens still laying eggs for human consumption.
  • Birds suffering from untreated broken bones, open wounds, infections and prolapses.
  • Workers brutally killing sick hens by grabbing their heads and swinging their bodies around to break their necks, or through neck-twisting, often resulting in a prolonged, torturous death.
  • Workers roughly and forcefully handling birds, resulting in injuries, such as broken bones and blunt trauma.
  • Hens covered in excrement, confined five to seven per cage the size of a file drawer, unable to stretch their wings, move freely or exercise.
  • Crippled hens left to languish in cage aisles without access to food, water, or veterinary care.

Twice in the past two years, a separate animal rights group, Farm Sanctuary, submitted video tapes and letters to Merced County law enforcement authorities showing other alleged abuses shot by an independent animal rights activist who penetrated Gemperle’s facilities. The group said it never heard back from authorities about the tapes.

“Unfortunately, we believe this abuse is likely rampant across the country,” said executive director of the Chicago group Nathan Runkle. “As long as these birds are treated like egg-producing machines, the abuse will likely continue.”

NuCal Food referred calls to Chris Myles, a spokesman for the Pacific Egg and Poultry Assn. Myles said the association condemned many of the “graphic images and activities depicted in this film,” calling them “in violation of our high standards for animal welfare.”

Mercy for Animals is asking that a criminal investigation be launched into Gemperle Enterprises. Although federal law does not regulate treatment of egg-laying chickens, state animal-cruelty regulations prohibit the mistreatment of the birds, Runkle said.

The estimated 9.4 billion egg-laying hens and birds killed for meat consumption each year have no protections under federal animal welfare laws, according to the U.S. Department of Food and Agriculture.

For more information and to view video go to: Mercy for Animals

See also: Diseased meat in our sick system, how could this be happening

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