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Amick Farms: High-Speed Chicken Slaughterhouse Exposed


Maryland chicken plant investigated after video shows alleged animal abuse


Shocking undercover footage reveals birds punched and slowly drowned


USDA investigating claims of animal abuse caught on video at farm in Maryland

UPDATE – Amick responds:  In a statement to the Washington Post, Amick Farms President Ben Harrison says: “Some of the actions in the video are clear violations of our animal welfare policies and our company values. We are taking all appropriate actions including, but not limited to, further training, swift disciplinary action, and a more rigorous approach to ensuring compliance with our policies for the humane handling of our birds.”

Read Amick’s full, yet insufficient, statement which falls short of taking full corporate responsibility for the cruelty caught on hidden camera when the company thought no one was watching.

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Powerful new investigative footage by Compassion Over Killing exposes heartbreaking cruelty to birds inside a Maryland slaughterhouse — one of 24 chicken plants allowed by the USDA to operate at dangerously fast kill line speeds.

In 2018, a COK investigator worked inside this Hurlock, Maryland high-speed facility that kills up to 175 birds each minute. That’s as many as over one million birds every week.

Most facilities operate at the already staggering rate of killing up to 140 birds per minute, and workers are forced to keep birds moving down the rapidly running kill line as quickly as possible, at risks to their safety and animal welfare.

Up until last month, 20 plants were allowed to operate at the high-speed rate of killing 175 birds per minute. Despite alarming problems present at high-speed plants — including what COK caught on camera at Amick Farms — the USDA recently allowed four more chicken slaughter plants to increase their speeds.

Not surprisingly, the National Chicken Council has urged the federal agency to entirely remove all caps on line speeds. The agency denied this request, but instead of abolishing the dangerous and inhumane program altogether as it should, the government plans on granting more waivers to individual plants to run up to 175 birds per minute like Amick Farms.

Even before arriving at the slaughterhouse, birds endure egregious abuse, severe overcrowding, filthy conditions, and the painful, crippling effects of unnaturally rapid growth.

At Amick and in other slaughterhouses operating with these increased line speeds, birds can endure suffering beyond cruel standard practices.

USDA’s plan to allow even more slaughterhouses to increase kill line speeds that are already dangerously fast is a reckless step backwards.
Animals, workers, and consumers need more protection, not less.

– Erica Meier, Executive Director, Compassion Over Killing

COK’s video exposes:

  • Workers punching, shoving, or throwing birds down the quickly moving line
  • Birds slowly drowning in electrified stunning baths during equipment break-down
  • Evidence of birds who were scalded alive in vats of hot water

Birds can be seen–still hanging from the shackles–in the water bath…it is likely that the birds would have experienced prolonged, possibly painful electrical shock while they died of drowning. 
This situation is totally unacceptable from an animal welfare perspective.”

– Dr. Sara Shields, in an expert statement in response to COK’s footage

High-Speed Horrors

Compounded by the reckless speed at which the slaughter line is allowed to run at Amick Farms and other high-speed plants, animals can endure even greater suffering, as workers are forced to take inhumane shortcuts, as well as during machinery break-downs.

These workers, too, endure the negative impacts of increased line speeds. While working there even for a short time, COK’s investigator suffered crippling pain and other hand injuries. Our investigator suffered swollen knuckles so severe the investigator’s hand could not close and the fingers would not touch when extended.

In the filthy and fast-paced assembly-line environment, many workers also removed their shirts in the extreme heat, putting themselves at further risk as they operated dangerous machinery without even basic protection.

This is the second time in just a few years that a COK investigation has exposed the horrors of high-speed slaughter, yet the USDA continues to move forward with its dangerous program.

In late 2015, a COK investigator worked inside Quality Pork Processors, a high-speed pig slaughter plant supplying Hormel Foods revealing pigs shocked, dragged, and pulled to the kill floor; pigs covered in feces and pus-filled abscesses processed for human consumption with a USDA seal of approval; and more.

COK has since delivered over a quarter million signatures against high-speed pig slaughter to the USDA. Join us as we now apply pressure to put the brakes on high-speed chicken slaughter, too! Sign and share our new petition today .

Throughout the chicken industry, birds endure severe crowding in filthy conditions as well as the painful and crippling effects of genetic manipulation for unnatural rapid growth. Read more