Products with “humane” and “organic” labels are becoming a quick go-to choice for consumers who don’t want to support the cruelties involved in factory farming. Quite often, however, these labels don’t really mean very much in the grand scheme of animal suffering.
Compassion Over Killing (COK) released an undercover video this week that was taken at a hatchery owned by Bell & Evans, a company that claims its chickens are “humanely raised and compassionately handled, in a minimal-stress environment, throughout their lives.”
The company has its own video highlighting just how happy their little “peeps” are, but it’s a stark contrast to the footage obtained by COK, which shows the reality of “humane” farming practices involving chickens. COK’s video shows what it stated are “chicks being treated like mere inanimate objects.” Hours-old chicks were shown being “jostled from machine to machine in a highly mechanized process,” while dead chicks were left with live birds, and still others left with “open wounds, injuries, deformities and illnesses.”
Probably most disturbing is the disposal of sick, weak and injured male chicks who are tossed into a grinder while they are still alive.
However, nothing that was shown in the video is illegal. Bell & Evans could be left out of the equation entirely here because all of it is considered standard industry practice. The industry as a whole has no use for male chicks, who don’t lay eggs or grow quickly enough to be raised for meat, which means they are routinely killed by the millions at hatcheries, whether or not they come from a farm that claims it’s following organic, humane, cage-free or free-range standards.
If someone were tossing puppies or kittens they didn’t want into a wood chipper, there would be hell to pay. Sadly, chickens and other animals who are considered livestock aren’t afforded the same compassion we show other animals even though they’re just as capable of suffering.
“Consumers who are looking for cruelty-free meat need to know about this,” said Erica Meier, executive director of COK. “Anyone concerned with their meat being cruelty-free should recognize that animal cruelty is standard practice in this industry.”
Scott Sechler, the owner of Bell & Evans issued a response stating that the company strives to meet humane standards and stated in the previously mentioned video that the company is audited by the Global Animal Partnership (GAP), but even that certification comes with its own set of problems.
COK is urging people to help stop the cycle of cruelty by passing on meat and other animal byproducts, which will also help stop companies from duping people into paying more for products that they believe are better for animals when they don’t make that much of a difference. The organization stated:
More than 8 billion birds are raised and killed for food each year in the U.S. – and with virtually no legal protections whatsoever, their short lives are filled with misery. The most effective way each of us can help end this abuse is to simply leave chickens, and all animals, off our plates.
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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