Follow-up Interview: Behind the Egg Hatchery Cruelty Video

Earlier this month the Chicago-based animal activist group called, Mercy for Animals released a dramatic video depicting the cruel treatment of newborn male chicks born at the Hy-Line egg hatchery in Iowa. 


The video, which was filmed by one of the organization’s undercover investigators, graphically showed the gruesome euthanizing of male chicks as they were lifted onto a conveyor belt and carried to a chute that dropped them into a grinding machine – while they were still alive. 


Mercy for Animals reported that this procedure is standard practice in the egg industry and that 200 million newly hatched male chicks are disposed of in this manner, every year. 


After reading the horrific details of this story and watching (portions) of the video, I came away wondering, “What does Mercy for Animals want the public to do with this information?  Can we change this practice?”


So I contacted Nathan Runkle, executive director for Mercy for Animals to see if he could shed some light on the subject.  Here is what he had to say about the egg industry.


Why did your organization film this video?

Runkle: We wanted to wake up the public to the reality of this problem.  The day to day operations of the egg industry and the poultry industry are inherently cruel.  We wanted consumers to be aware of what goes on, in the name of cheaper eggs.


There is no quick solution to this problem because the system is broken.  Mercy for Animals wanted to shine the light on farm animals.  There are no federal laws that protect poultry.


The Humane Slaughter Act which requires all livestock to be rendered unconscious before being slaughtered does not include birds.  Poultry wasn’t considered to be livestock when the law was passed and this gave the industry with a loophole that has caused tremendous cruelty to chickens and turkeys.  Males born in this industry are considered as “garbage.”


What would you encourage the public do to stop this problem?

Runkle: Mercy for Animals promotes a Vegan lifestyle and we encourage that everyone move toward that goal, but really the public can have the most impact by creating less demand for eggs.  With more consumers aware of the problem, we hope fewer eggs will be bought and used.  This will force the egg industry to move to a more humane system.


The public can also support laws to protect factory farm animals and modify the Animal Welfare Act to include birds.  The Humane Society of the United States and other animal advocate groups are currently working to change those laws now. 


Are there any “good eggs” around?

Runkle: No, sorry.  The grinding of male chicks is standard practice in the industry.  Even farms that raise “cage free” hens get their eggs from factory hatcheries.  Unless you can find an old-fashioned farm that raises the chickens and hatches their own eggs, all of the eggs start out the same way.  A family farm that handles the whole process wouldn’t be able to produce eggs for very many people, though.


Isn’t there some place the male chickens could go or be used?

Runkle laughed.  No, not at this point.  It wouldn’t make money, so nobody wants to look into this.


Why was Mercy for Animals created?

Runkle: We are a national non-profit farmed animal advocacy organization.  The largest numbers of animals in the U.S. are factory farm animals and 99% of cruelty to animals happens to the ones used for meat, dairy and in the egg industry.  We exist to see that all animals are treated with respect and compassion.


Is there any research being done to detect male eggs before they hatch?

Runkle: There are no machines being tested to detect male eggs, but in Australia where they kill 10 million male chicks a year, they are working on a way to breed only female eggs.  It may become the way of the future.


Click Here To Watch Undercover Video

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Hattie Wallace
Laverne Wallace6 years ago

I don't think I could eat another egg without thinking of these poor chicks.

Amber M.
Amber Beasley6 years ago

I already don't buy or eat eggs.


Please God stop all the cruelty and the killing of animals in this evil human world........ youre the only one, have mercy on the animals.....

Moertl M.
Martha M8 years ago

It's unreasonable, and utopian to believe that globally animals will be better treated in the future. It's rather the reverse. Things come up that did not exist before. Cows and pigs are treated like factories. All these pet breeding selections (toy sized, without hair why not without voice why not violet colored)
Furlobby is pushing ahead again and and and....

Carol H.
Past Member 8 years ago

I wish with all of heart I could stop eating eggs but my husband and I don't have a lot of money and eggs are cheap but I hate what they do to those innocent beautiful animals. I kept seeing those horrible pictures in my mind over and over again how could they do that without even thinking twice about what they are doing.
Why couldn't they ship them overseas to another country and raise them for food poorer peoples all over the world. All it takes to feed them is seed and there would be win win situation all the way around.
Allow me to tell you a story about what happened to my mom when she was just a child. She had a chick and she loved that chick and one day she was "hugging" that chick and when she opened her hands it had died from not having the ability to breathe she carried that guilt up to age of eighty-eight years old because when it happened they just told her to throw it away but I didn't find out about until she was in her seventies (70's) and she cried and I have not seen my mother cry much at all. I told her that it wasn't her fault because she was just a baby and she didn't know better but she carried that around for so long she even up to the day she died she carried that around and for years I told her it wasn't her fault but when it happened nobody told her that so no matter what I told her she didn't believe me so you could imagine how whe react if she knew about this so this has to be stopped TODAY!!!

John Chase
John Chase8 years ago

Deborah K,
I am sorry that this has kept you up for weeks, that is a bummer.
When you think about all the waste of food resources and the halting of monies to provide for those who have so little, like those trapped in the political struggles in Africa, those who really need what we toss away without care... this is where I find myself thinking about being inhumane.
This is where the senseless destruction of life really hits home.
I can assure you of one thing, as gruesome as it looks, those chicks feel whatever pain they do feel for only fractions of a second. In all the ugliness of animals lives being taken for food, these little fellas get the swiftest most pain, anxiety free trip to heaven.
I hope you can find some inner peace that allows you to get some rest.

Deborah K.
Deborah K8 years ago

This video has left me sleepless for weeks.. I so want to do something now !!! I do not know where to start..Question , How could anyone video that and not scream from the top of their lungs STOP!!! I would of Baricaded the GRINDER!!!!!

Alice B.
Alice B8 years ago

I hope to be raising my own chicks for my own eggs next spring, once I have the shed ready, etc. Cage free eggs are much better. And if I end up with a rooster, I think chicken dinner is ok too. Quick, merciful, and it is a fact of life. Plants live on rocks and soil. Otherwise, on this planet, life feeds on life.

John Chase
John Chase8 years ago

I watched the video, and I was kind of shocked at the blunt trauma that seeing this kind of thing brings to my mind.
However, logic settles in as the engineer mills over the gruesome details. With a heavy heart, I realize that this does indeed bring an almost instantaneous death to a being that does not even have the time to recognize what is happening.
This is probably more humane than filling a tray with a pile of little chicks waiting to be gassed into "peaceful sleep". Which gives them plenty of time ti get the vibe of EXACTLY what fate lies ahead. That is most definitely NOT humane.
This method of "euthanization" (to me it is pure waste to save a few pennies) is approved by the American Veterinary Association as being humane, and the preferred method.
I really love the idea someone had of gifting the males to folks that can use the creatures for food and or commerce.
Of course, this is not possible, because our government would have to figure out a way to tax the heck out of everyone, and the chicken farms would be the ones to be taxed, so this kind gesture of helping everyone will not happen.
Thinking the perfect cure is that everyone switch to veganism is about as practical as my saying that if all you vegans would just switch to a meat diet, the demand would drop so perilously that the cost of produce would plummet so you would be helping ME.
Please, I respect your feelings and your ideals (for you), so why not have the same respect for me?

Tierney G.
Tierney G8 years ago

Glad to see so many care! 73%. Something that is rarely ever mentioned about eggs is that they can be found in many to almost all pre-packaged foods and pre-made salads like potatato. All bakery products contain eggs. Albumen is an egg product. Egg beaters and the like are also made from eggs. Check all pre made or processed foods ingredients, eggs most likely will be listed somewhere as yolks or whites, albumen , or dried. The only way to end this cruelty at present is to be an educated consumer read the ingredients if it contains eggs don't buy it!