Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), an animal rights organization that has visited many “humane” animal farms to investigate their claims, invited TheirTurn to document one of their many nocturnal visits to JS West, an egg farm certified by the American Humane Association. Our visit, which was intended to be an investigation, morphed into a rescue mission.
After spending less than a minute inside of a warehouse with 150,000 egg-laying hens, my worst fears were confirmed. The “humane” label is nothing more than a marketing fraud designed by the animal agriculture industry and retailers to make consumers feel good about purchasing their products.
A hen with a growth on her on her face that is larger than her head is rescued
Please visit Direct Action Everywhere to learn more about how the animal agriculture industry preys on well-intended consumers by fraudulently marketing their products with language that states or suggests that their animals are treated humanely.
Following numerous undercover investigations revealing shocking cruelty in slaughterhouses, U.S. meat and egg companies are slowly shifting towards a method of killing regarded by many as being less inhumane: gas chambers.
Euphemistically referred to as Controlled Atmosphere Killing (CAK), gas chambers are widely used in Australia and some European Union countries to slaughter pigs, chickens and other animals.
In several countries, pigs and chickens are commonly killed using gas chambers.
In order to gas pigs, slaughterhouse workers use electric prods to force them into small steel cages which are lowered into carbon dioxide filled chambers. Undercover footage shows pigs screaming, thrashing and gasping for air in their final moments. An Australian activist conducting an undercover investigation described what he saw: “In their last minutes, these pigs are burning from the inside out.”
Pigs being suffocated in gas chambers.
The travelling crates that contain chickens are typically unloaded from a truck onto a conveyor belt which carries them into a gas chamber. According to an eyewitness from Canadians for the Ethical Treatment of Food Animals, “Aversive behavior in the form of gasping, shaking of heads and stretching of necks to breathe could be seen beginning in window two [of the gas chamber] and, by window three, all were exhibiting strong convulsions. The birds’ movements eventually became still and by the time they emerged from the CO2 chambers they were completely lifeless…”
Gas chambers are used to render broiler chickens unconscious before they are bled to death.
Workers aggressively grab spent layer hens birds out of their cages and toss them into mobile metal gas chambers. On some factory farms, the hens are simply stuffed into trash cans where they are gassed. According to a former worker at a supplier to Eggland’s Best: “It’s absolutely chilling to hear these birds scrambling and fighting for air in these gas chambers.”
At worst spent hens are killed by being thrown into trash cans which are than filled with gas.
Several animal advocacy groups are pressuring companies to transition to using CAK as their primary method of slaughter because it has been shown to be, in many ways, less painful and stressful than conventional methods.
In media coverage of the bird flu outbreak, reporters have delivered the news that million hens have been “destroyed” as though they were delivering the weather report — with virtually no emotion. In fact, the mass extermination has not been treated as news at all. It has been provided as background information to what media outlets regard as the real news: the impact of the flu deaths on on egg prices, egg exports and human health.
The media’s disregard for what, in a just world, would have been THE news – “Millions Dead!” – reflects the larger problem that society deems farm animals as commodities and objects instead of sentient beings. If millions of humans were, through no fault of their own, stricken with a virus and killed, the media would report on the tragedy around the clock for weeks, and they would do so with emotion.
Chicken cull in Hong Kong (photo: Philippe Lopez
Humans are the only animals who are destroying the planet, yet society has brainwashed us into thinking that we’re superior to those who live in harmony with it. We see ourselves as so superior, in fact, that we can kill animals by the millions without taking a moment to reflect on the pain and suffering they endure – which is caused by us.
Humans behave as though in charge of – instead of a part of – the planet.
The irony in this tragedy is that the 5.3 million birds who were killed are lucky compared to those who are forced to live. There are some fates worse than death, and spending one’s life intensively confined in a factory farm is one of them.
The vast majority of egg laying hens spend their lives in cages so small that they can’t spread their wings.
In its bird flu coverage, the media also glanced over the conditions on factory farms that facilitate disease transmission. When thousands of animals are stuffed into sheds with no space to move, pathogens that enter spread quickly. Shouldn’t the media report on these conditions, which the industry intentionally hides, so that the public can make informed decisions about what (and who) they purchase at the grocery store?
Bird flu outbreak in China in 2013 (Photo by ChinaFotoPress, Getty Images)
The infectious diseases, mass slaughter, public health risks, cruelty and environmental devastation wrought by animal agriculture could be altogether eliminated if people adopted a plant-based diet. Perhaps renowned author Jonathan Safran Foer said it best, “Just how destructive does a culinary preference have to be before we decide to eat something else?”
Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), a California-based animal rights group that stages dramatic in-store protests around the world, conducted a year-long investigation of a “certified humane” farm, and what they found was so compelling that the New York Times ran a lengthy (though slanted) story about it, exposing the mainstream public to the myth of “humane” animal agriculture.
During approximately 10 visits to Petaluma Farms, a Whole Foods egg supplier in California, DxE took video footage of the horrific conditions in which the “humanely raised” hens are living. In addition to documenting the typical aspects of “life” on factory farms, such as disease, stress and overcrowding, they encountered birds languishing in manure pits; struggling to breath and already dead. One of the worst conditions, the “overwhelming” smell, could not be captured on camera.
In this extraordinary video, DxE uses video footage from its investigation to demonstrate that, even in the “best” of circumstances – on a farm that is “certified humane” – animals are abused, neglected and deprived of the chance to do anything that comes naturally to them.
Because Whole Foods is spending tens of millions of dollars to duplicitously market animal abuse as “humane” and slaughter as an “act of compassion,” DxE is launching an international campaign against the grocery store chain – with protests planned in 50 cities – demonstrating that there is no humane way to slice off hens’ beaks, castrate baby pigs, suffocate animals in gas chambers and slit their throats. Whole Foods, they argue, has built a “house of lies” around a “dark and violent reality,” where their “farms are prisons, and every inmate is on death row.”
Whole Foods markets slaughter as “compassion.”
Please visit Direct Action Everywhere to learn about, support and/or join their provocative campaigns to expose the truth about animal farming and promote a cruelty-free lifestyle.
Eggs. Billions upon billions of eggs are consumed in the United States each year. Most consumers buys eggs by the dozen and crack them open without giving a second thought to where they come from, much less what happens to the hens when they can no longer lay them.
Today, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) released the first-ever footage from a slaughterhouse for spent hens. The footage was taken by an undercover investigator who spent 57 days documenting what happens to the 85,000 hens killed each day at just one slaughterhouse – Butterfield Foods in the state of Minnesota.
The most egregious abuse uncovered was scalding hens while they were still alive. Hens are supposed to be dropped into an electrified water trough to render them unconscious before having their throats slit and being dropped into scalding tanks for feather removal, but that doesn’t always happen. In a thirty minute period, the HSUS investigator counted approximately 45 birds who were drowned alive in the scalding tanks. It’s the most grisly end possible for animals who spent their entire caged lives in a space smaller than a sheet of paper.
Hens in battery cages
Even though chickens and turkeys represent 9 out of 10 animals who are slaughtered in the U.S., the federal Humane Methods of Slaughter Act exempts them. Nonetheless, HSUS invoked Minnesota’s anti-cruelty code to file a complaint with the state. The organization also filed a complaint with the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service on the grounds that Butterfield is violating the Poultry Products Inspection Act.
The hens slaughtered at Butterfield are transported in crates from factory farms all over the country. During their long journey, the hens, who are already battered after spending their lives in battery cages, are deprived of food, water, space to move and protection from the weather. The investigator documented birds who arrived dead; with broken bones; and covered in feces.
When the trucks arrive at Butterfield, workers grab the frantic hens out of the crates with a metal hook, shackle them upside down, and send them on a conveyer belt from an electrified water trough to a neck cutting station to a scalding tank. The investigator witnessed hens attempting to right themselves; hens who missed the electrified trough; and hens who had their necks sliced while fully conscious. Some hens arrived alive and bleeding at the scalding tank where they were boiled.
Who eats spent hens? Their bodies, which were bred to lay eggs, have very little meat. In addition, hens often have broken bones which splinter into the flesh. Paul Shapiro, HSUS’ VP for Farm Animal Protection, says that most this low-grade meat, valued at 2 cents/bird, is used for farm animals and pet food. At Butterfield, however, the meat is canned for human consumption and sold to discount stores.
Hens can live for over a decade, but, on factory farms, they are sent to the slaughterhouse at 12 – 18 months, which is when they stop laying eggs.