State & Federal Laws to Protect Chickens
To most people’s surprise, there are no federal laws to protect chickens raised for food. Unfortunately, from the moment they’re hatched until they are slaughtered, the routine abuses these smart and social animals often endure are beyond the reach of the law. Although they represent more than 90% of the animals raised and killed for food each year in the US, they are even explicitly exempted from the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act.
At the state level in North Carolina, the anti-cruelty code fails to offer adequate protections to prevent many of the cruelties seen in our undercover video. In fact, practices that are considered standard within the industry are protected under the state law. However, some of the acts of abuse we caught on camera at Prince Poultry — including throwing and beating chickens with metal rods, stuffing live birds into buckets with dead birds, and routinely dumping live birds into an open pit to languish and die — fall outside of industry norms, and therefore should be considered felony violations of cruelty to animals.
“Dumping sick and injured live birds to die in the cold will result in a huge amount of suffering, is completely inhumane and does not conform to industry practices.” – Dr. Ian Duncan, internationally renowned poultry expert and professor at the University of Guelph.
“Several birds are still alive when they are put onto the dead pile …. Acclimated to the thermal environment of the grow-out house, and genetically predisposed to eat often, these birds would die slowly from cold temperatures, starvation and dehydration, or due to their injuries or illnesses. This treatment of the birds is neglectful, and is wholly unacceptable.” – Dr. Sara Shields, PhD, renowned chicken behavior and animal welfare expert and member of the Animal Welfare Committee for Safeway stores.