Foie Gras from Diseased Birds

Undercover Video Prompts Authorities to Impound Ducklings

Undercover Video at Santa Cruz Hatchery Prompts Authorities to Impound Ducklings

June 2, 2010

For immediate release: June 2, 2010

Santa Cruz, CA— Today, animal protection charity Compassion Over Killing (COK) is releasing an undercover video revealing shocking abuses and suffering inside Cal-Cruz Hatcheries, a chicken and duck hatchery in Santa Cruz, California. While employed at the facility as a maintenance worker for nearly a month in 2009, a COK investigator used a hidden camera to document the miseries forced upon newly-hatched birds, including:

  • A chick drowning in a bucket of liquid waste
  • Hatchlings entangled in machinery, their dead bodies mangled, decapitated, or missing limbs
  • Sick or severely injured birds left to suffer for hours, sometimes on the concrete floor
  • Unwanted hatchlings treated like trash and dumped into the egg shell disposal chute, then sprayed with a high-pressure hose forcing them down the drain
  • Birds tossed around, often thrown five to six feet across the room into buckets

Compassion Over Killing’s video evidence documenting this routine and appalling mistreatment of animals was immediately turned over to the Santa Cruz County Animal Services Authority and the District Attorney’s Office. A lengthy follow-up investigation conducted by humane law enforcement corroborated COK’s evidence of abuse and neglect and also prompted authorities to impound 88 ducklings, many of whom have been sent to a sanctuary.

Despite COK’s undercover video and the additional documentation by authorities, the District Attorney’s office held the case for several months, and in late April 2010, told Compassion Over Killing it is declining to prosecute the hatchery for violations of state animal protection laws.

Compassion Over Killing is calling upon the Santa Cruz District Attorney to pursue justice for these birds, hundreds of thousands of whom are hatched each week at Cal-Cruz Hatcheries and are subjected to routine practices causing them to suffer unnecessarily.

“This video clearly shows chicks and ducklings being abused and neglected, and many are literally treated like trash as they are left to suffer on the concrete floors or are dumped down the egg shell disposal system,” said COK’s executive director Erica Meier. “California’s animal cruelty laws can and should be applied in this case, just as they would be if dogs or cats were subjected to these same abuses.”

More information, including the video, is available at Photos and broadcast-quality footage is available upon request.


Compassion Over Killing (COK) is a nonprofit animal advocacy organization based in the Washington, D.C. area. Since 1995, COK has worked to end the abuse of animals in agriculture through undercover investigations, public outreach, litigation, and other advocacy programs. On the web at