40,000 Birds Left to Die: Rescuer Describes Shocking Scene of Bankrupt Factory Farm

Just before the New Year, Maddie Cartwright received an urgent call. A factory farm had gone bankrupt with 40,000 “broiler” chicks in its care. Already starving, dehydrated, and many with injuries from enduring overcrowded conditions and neglect, the farm was planning to kill them or just leave them there to die. Some, in fact, were already dead.

Cartwright immediately mobilized for a massive rescue with other animal caregivers and Colorado-based Luvin Arms Animal Sanctuary. What she saw when she arrived was shocking.

In her moving account of the rescue, Maddie Cartwright describes the gut-wrenching scene:

“The smell hit us before we entered the barn. Inside, there were tens of thousands of birds filling the entire space. It looked like every single undercover video I’ve ever seen. There was a chicken right in front of me with a huge, bloody gash on their leg, struggling to walk. On my left, there was a group of three small hens huddling together, weak and pale, next to the body of a friend who had already passed away. A few feet from them, a group of several birds were hungrily tearing apart the body of another bird who had recently died. And as I looked up over the expanse of this huge industrial shed, I noticed other groups of birds gathering around, eating bodies, as far as I could see.”

Photo by Zee Griffler

Sadly, this gut-wrenching scene is not the exception, but the rule–even at “free range,” “humanely raised,” small family farms, as this one allegedly claimed to be.

According to the account, the farm owner assisted rescuers as they picked through the bodies to find the individuals who could be saved. Meanwhile, farm workers killed birds by pulling their heads from their bodies and dislocating their necks (known as cervical dislocation).

After hours of tireless work that still continues as we write this, around 500 birds were rescued and are now being treated for protruding bones, compound fractures, deep wounds, anemia, severe emaciation, and other afflictions. The birds who are healthy enough are being placed in loving homes throughout the country.


“When you’re standing in the middle of hundreds to thousands of suffering animals, it’s impossible to save them all.” -Maddie Cartwright


This gruesome scene is all too common in animal agribusiness. In a race for profit, large corporations underpay contracted farmers and workers in order to raise massive numbers of rapidly-growing birds to be processed for meat. The price of their greed? Animals, humans, and the planet suffer on a monumental scale.

Every year, billions of chickens will be slaughtered in the United States. And before they’re killed, they’re subjected to the horrors described above. These intelligent animals who are able to form relationships and feel pain or fear just like you or I, are extremely crowded into filthy and dark sheds where they are denied their natural behaviors, and trapped inside their own bodies by dangerous and painful rapid growth that will kill many before they even go to slaughter at about two months old.

Inside a Tyson Foods contracted factory farm. Photo by Compassion Over Killing.

Undercover investigations are bringing these hidden horrors  to light, revealing violent cruelties throughout the meat, dairy, and egg industries.

This past November, a COK investigation inside high-speed chicken slaughterhouse Amick Farms reached tens of millions of people with a hidden camera view of how dangerously fast kill line speeds — under USDA approval — are causing birds as well as workers even more suffering.

These 500 birds rescued by Luvin Arms Animal Sanctuary will now become the ambassadors for the billions of other birds who will suffer and die at the hands of the chicken industry. As long as there remains demand for animal products, birds will be denied this mercy and the tragic conditions they are forced to endure will not improve.

In concluding her description of the dismal state of the factory farm, Maddie Cartwright offers this heartfelt plea for an end to the cruelty:

“I wish you could stand where I just did, and look out over an expansive hellscape of suffering, and know that all those things you’ve heard and feared about farms are true. I wish you could see it and smell it and hear it and touch it for yourself. So I could stop sharing these stories, trying to reach your heart, trying to convince your mind- I know what I’m talking about. Please. Listen. Believe me. Please. Stop eating babies.”

YOU can take action to help end this suffering. Start today by supporting the work of brave investigators and rescuers, and make your next meal a vegan one. For support in transitioning to a more compassionate lifestyle, visit TryVeg.com.

Featured image: Zee Griffler