Graphic video, animal rights group says Chick-fil-A abuses chickens

Mercy for Animals has released a disturbing video which it says shows abuses against animals at a farm and slaughterhouse that provides chicken to fast-food giant Chick-fil-A.

The video shows chickens being violently thrown into storage areas, often by their wings and legs; others being scalded alive; and still others “having their throats, wings, and chests sliced open while still conscious.”

Chick-fil-A says it no longer uses the farm and slaughterhouse, run by Koch foods (no apparent relation to the Koch Brothers), but Mercy for Animals disputes this.

Live chickens being violent thrown into storage bins, often by their legs and wings.

Live chickens being violent thrown into storage bins, often by their legs and wings.

The video is pretty disturbing. Though I suspect it’s not a very pleasant business killing animals en masse, regardless of how one ends their lives. I’d have liked to seen some information as to what the norm for the industry actually is. In other words, is Chick-fil-A’s (previous?) supplier breaking the rules, or, and potentially even worse, is this the way chickens are treated everywhere? Because, while I’m not quite ready to become a vegetarian, it isn’t a fun thing to watch.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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  • Troy

    I once was on a farm outside of Buffalo, NY and saw first hand how the chickens were treated. Made me sick and I didn’t eat chicken for a year due to it…. but I am a meat eater and the ban didn’t last. I only hope all animals don’t suffer as there is no need to.
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  • goulo

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  • Demosthenes

    Abusing chickens? Really? Are we now going to say IHOP abuses eggs? Seems like a rather trivial accusation.

  • JohnnyD

    It seems to me that shackling chickens upside-down on a conveyor BEFORE killing them is unnecessarily cruel to the animals. If one of the stages is dragging their heads through an electrified water pool to render them dead (or unconscious, it doesn’t say what the desired state is, just that the birds are “stunned” by the water), why can’t that be done en masse when the chickens are first unloaded, by dumping them in an electrified pool?

    And only after they are unloaded, electrocuted, and confirmed dead, would the chickens be hung up on the conveyor upside-down.

    It’s a small thing, so it shouldn’t be that hard or expensive to do. I detest the thought of putting animals through unnecessary suffering just because they are slated to be butchered for food. That’s no excuse for being cruel.

  • bejammin075

    I have finally reconciled my views on nutrition, meat, animals,
    farming, and the environment. First of all, we are descended from omnivorous meat
    eaters, and optimal human nutrition is best with animal products (plus lots of
    veggies & other whole plants). I went vegan for about a year. I carefully
    constructed my diet (e.g. ate as many high-protein plants as possible), and yet
    most of my hair fell out and I’m almost bald now. I gave it a good try. But I
    went back to meat. Factory farming though, is brutal to animals and destroys
    the environment. The solution is for people to buy from, as much as they are
    able, small local mostly-organic farms that don’t need much input (fertilizer,
    pesticides, etc). I try to buy “grass fed” as much as possible for meat, dairy
    and eggs. Those animals got to live respectably. It costs more money. I am
    fortunate enough to afford it. Not everyone has access or can afford it, so I
    don’t judge others on this (very much). Google “Polyface Farms” for an example
    of how a modern farm can be environmentally friendly, respectful to animals
    (until eaten) with higher productivity per acre than factory farms, AND produce
    super nutritious food.

  • BlueIdaho

    Well it appears they treat their chickens about as well as their gay employees.

  • anon

    I met Nathan, the founder of Mercy for Animals, when he was about 19 and already dedicating himself to making the world a better place for both people and animals. Incredibly good guy.

    You might be interested to know he was the victim of a hate crime a few years back: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mikko-alanne/a-hate-crime-you-wont-see_b_155665.html

  • Butch1

    I don’t know about “Mr. Jebus,” but the conservatives will find an excuse to stand behind this chicken chain.

  • 2karmanot

    “It will be interesting how they talk their way out of this one.” They will pray to Mr. Jebus and he will understand.

  • 2karmanot

    OMG don’t get me started on groundhogs in Vermont—makes me ashamed to toss my Buddhism out the window to do them in.

  • 2karmanot

    It doesn’t surprise me the least that uber Christians Chick-fil-A embrace their very own Chicken Auschwitz..

  • To be fair, I also recall this particular cow as having been described as stupider than most. Still, it was a shame to see her having to be put down.

    As far as ‘exterminating’ the groundhogs, that was all but impossible. Because there were so few natural predators left, my father’s shooting of them (and later me and my brother) was more along the lines of population control. Same as happens in this part of the country with respect to prairie dogs, which are specifically listed as ‘pest’ animals and thus legal to shoot year-round.

  • That’s the first time I’ve ever heard first-hand from someone who has actually seen it. But dealing with ranchers in Texas for years, as well as large animal vets, I hear a lot of “my uncles brother cousin’s former room mate once said it happened, so we have to kill every prairie dog and ground hog in a 20 mile radius!” but have never heard of an actual case. The University of Colorado did a study on the sharing of range land with native wildlife and came to the conclusion that it was a nonsense reason for exterminating animals. Snow cover would make sense, but most people don’t graze their animals in deep snow.

  • Seen it. Watched the cow being put down. Happened in part because the herd was being put to pasture in a field where there was a fresh layer of snow, and so the groundhog holes were concealed.

    It’s not a myth.

  • garygdw
  • I guarantee you, it’s not just this producer. Horrible treatment of poultry is pretty much universal in factory farms. Chickens are crammed in beak to tail, and actually end up having their beaks trimmed so they don’t injure each other. They stand in their own waste, barely able to move. When it comes time to be slaughtered, the video is actually pretty tame.

  • Yay, the good old cattle leg-break myth to justify killing native wildlife. :P

  • Even as someone who is not a vegan and makes no apologies about having hunted for game animals*, this farm’s behavior and treatment of their animals is nevertheless disgusting and cruel.

    (Our family’s rule, with just two exceptions, was “if you shoot it, you eat it.” Those exceptions were (1) a family of skunks that had nested too close to the house and (2) Pennsylvania groundhogs which would dig burrows in farmers’ fields, where they actually asked us to help remove ’em because the proliferating holes were a leg-break danger for their dairy cattle.)

  • Butch1

    I don’t think this is the humane way to kill the birds. It looks like they have shortened a step in the process of defeathering the birds and killing them in one step. This isn’t right. It is torture and I think they will be in trouble for this one. It will be interesting how they talk their way out of this one. There is a more humane way of euthanizing the birds.

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