The non-profit organization Mercy for Animals has recently released a video shot at an Iowa egg hatchery showing workers killing unwanted male chicks by placing them in a grinder while still alive. The shocking footage is now spreading quickly around the internet along with calls for the company in question, Hy-Line, to reform its practices. Male chicks are routinely discarded because they don’t produce eggs and don’t grow large enough or quickly enough to be sold for meat. While there is nothing illegal about killing chicks in this way, the footage also contains images of chicks slipping through the grinder and dying slowly on the factory floor, which is a violation of corporate and industry ethical standards.
According to the AP, Mitch Head, the spokesperson for the United Egg Producers responded to the video by saying, “There is, unfortunately, no way to breed eggs that only produce female hens.” He continued, “If someone has a need for 200 million male chicks, we’re happy to provide them to anyone who wants them. But we can find no market, no need.”
The chicken processor, Hy-Line on its website says it produces about 30,000,000 chicks a year, and by that count, it would mean that it also kills about 30,000,000 male chicks a year as well.
Undercover footage: Warning: Graphic Images. Not for the squeamish or children.
This is not the first time that undercover footage has lead to calls for change in the food industry. The Hallmark/Westland meat recall, the largest in US history, was touched off by footage shot by a Human Society volunteer who took a job at the slaughterhouse. These videos point to the rapid change towards transparency that is being forced upon businesses. Companies that expect that they can operate behind closed doors in a way that would offend the sensibilities or ethical standards of the public are being forced to change. But will consumers be willing to pay more, or spend more time, for food that is not produced in an industrial fashion?
Adam Werbach is the author of Strategy for Sustainability TWITTER: @adamwerbach
Although we may not be able to stop these shocking practices today, we can pressure a large player in the chicken meat industry, McDonalds, to adopt more humane methods for slaughter. Click to sign the petition letter.
by Adam Werbach