Monday, September 21, 2009

Video Shows Price of Cheap Eggs: Chicks Ground Up Alive

by Martha Rosenberg

photoThis screen grab from Mercy for Animals' YouTube video shows chicks on a conveyor belt. (Photo: Mercy for Animals)

    The "food units" cascading down the conveyor in the video are sorted like apples, fine grade, rejects.

    Except that the kinetic yellow balls - an undulating fuzzy mass - are not pears or peppers, but newborn chicks. And they're being sorted into male, female and deformed - with male and deformed destined for death.

    A video just released by Mercy For Animals from Hy-Line Hatchery in Spencer, Iowa, the largest hatchery for egg-laying breed chicks in the US, confirms what has been rumored for years about the egg industry: that newborn males, which are worthless to the industry, are ground up alive in chopping machines called macerators.

    Video from a hidden camera clearly shows healthy male chicks, peeping and bouncing as they greet the world, fed into the blades of the macerator like so much litter. Hello! Goodbye!

    "I saw a bloody slush coming out of the bottom of the grinder," writes the MFA investigator, who worked in the Hy-Line "transfer room" and on the cleaning crew during May and June. "The plant manager told me that the ground-up male chicks were used in dog food and fertilizer."

    Also shown in the Mercy For Animals video is the debeaking procedure in which chicks are inserted en masse into a laser cutter where they dangle by their beaks, struggling, while burns are inflicted that make part of their beak fall off in a week.

    Nor does the egg industry want to waste any time letting a chick peck its way out of its shell to start its tour of duty on the egg farm, if it's female.

    The hatchery's "separator" machine efficiently disconnects newborns from their shells at the price of the few, which fall to the ground or get caught in the machine and "washed" along with the equipment.

Warning: Chicks.
(Illustration: Martha Rosenberg)

    Asked about the panting, damp newborns on the floor, half born and half dead, a worker tells the MFA investigator, "Some of them get on the floor and get wet and then they're no good."

    Like veal calves on dairy farms, egg industry chicks experience no moments with their mothers despite their innate biological urges. Their first memories will be of blades, pain and terror, not of a mother in the mechanized hell the egg industry has devised to bring cheap product to the market.

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