Cruelty to Chickens & Turkeys

"Think occasionally of the suffering of which
you spare yourself the sight."

~Albert Schweitzer

Do you think eating poultry meat or eggs is wrong?

We don't.

But we are appalled at the horrific and unconscionable methods used by the large majority of commercial enterprises that provide turkey and chicken meat and eggs.

The U.S. federal government has NO requirements for humane slaughter of birds. The Humane Slaughter Act, makes it illegal to kill "livestock" cruelly. However, it excludes poultry from the definition of "livestock", though birds make up over 90% of the 10 billion animals slaughtered for food each year. This allows poultry plants freedom to kill birds however they choose, as long customers tolerate their practices.

Only a few states protect poultry in their humane slaughter laws.

Though it does monitor poultry facilities, the USDA inspects only for sanitation and only the amount needed for human health--not bird welfare.

What can you do to help stop cruelties?

  • Don't believe claims that audits of factory farms and processing plants adequately control suffering.
    Owners claim that there are enough built-in financial incentives to ensure they operate humanely. This is not true, and the level of abuse rises dismally just prior to slaughter because at that time, damages to birds are even less damaging to profits.
    • Breaking bones:  When hand-gathering chickens for transport to slaughter, workers grab 5 to 7 birds in each hand and shove them into shipping cages. Many birds' legs, feet and wing bones are violently broken at this point, and/or at the processing plant where a worker has less than 3 seconds to shove each bird upside down into leg shackles on the moving production line.
    • Freezing, overheating, suffocation:  Birds are transported year-round in stacks of cages with little protection from rain, freezing temperatures, stifling heat and suffocating crowding. Large numbers die on the way.
    • Starving:  Prior to and during shipping to slaughter, birds are deprived of food & water--to achieve the 'cleanest' carcass. The fasting period can be as long as 4 days in some cases.
    • Many other horrific traumas are inflicted on birds before they finally are freed by death.  Read investigationsSee photos of common cruelties
  • Modify your use of eggs.
    • Use egg-free substitutes when possible. (See baking tips here, or at bottom of cruelty info page.) Buying eggs supports factory-farm practices such as the killing of all male chicks, and handling 'spent' laying hens as almost worthless.
    • Don't buy 'normal' eggs. 'Normal' battery cages create the broadest range of intense afflictions, where each hen spends her entire life with less living space than the size of a piece of typing paper.
      • Other factory-farm systems may offer some better options. However, be aware they can also foster some significant suffering--such as inadequate flock division causing excessive pecking, 'cage-free' perch designs causing broken breastbones, 'free-range' with poor shelter causing distress in heat or cold, etc.
      • Producers using 'enriched-environment housing' offer some positive alternatives. (See live cam.)
      • A small flock well-kept by a local farmer may also be a good source.
  • Tell other people what you learn about cruelties, so they can make informed choices, too.
-  Thank you for showing you care.  -