Expert Statements on Hatchery Investigation

Sara Shields, PhD

Dr. Shields is an animal welfare scientist and teaches animal sciences. Dr. Shields earned her PhD at the University of California, Davis, in the Animal Behavior program. There she worked with both broiler chickens and laying hens. She also worked in the Emergency Disease Program at the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Dr. Shields states:

"The video depicts compromised chicks struggling on the floor. Some are undoubtedly still alive after falling through the separation machine These animals are in need of immediate attention and should have been euthanized without delay or given care to assist their recovery. It is disconcerting that these animals are simply left on the floor with dead chicks and egg debris."

"Some hatchery personnel exhibit a callous demeanor when handling and sorting the chicks. Such an attitude can be a major obstacle to animal well-being, especially when employees interact with thousands of birds on a daily basis."

"Greater attention to the welfare of the chicks at this hatchery is needed."

 

Debra Teachout, DVM, MVSc

Dr. Teachout is a practicing veterinarian who graduated from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. She also holds an advanced degree in veterinary clinical pathology from Western College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Teachout states:

"Chicks are pawed, shoved, dropped, and tossed by employees as if they are cat toys throughout the entire hatchery process. Bruising and broken limbs would be expected."

"Throughout this hatchery process there are multiple serious continuous affronts to the chick's sense of well being and safety. They are constantly bombarded by an incredible industrial noise level which likely causes great anxiety. In addition, the chicks are continuously handled, bounced, dropped, flung, hung, swung, and somersaulted just to name a few of the unnatural maneuvers that they are forced to endure in their first few days of life."

"Natural history would dictate a time of warmth, quiet, and protection of a hovering hen. Instead these chicks suffer unrelenting traumatic and abnormal events that have no relevance or similarity to their innate requirements. These chicks are likely in extreme psychological distress."

 

Nedim C. Buyukmihci, VMD

Dr. Buyukmihci is an Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis. He has over 34 years of experience, much of it involving farmed animals, including chickens. Dr. Buyukmihci states:

"Hundreds of chicks were transported to a hopper on a conveyor belt. The chicks then dropped into the hopper onto a rapidly spinning auger that violently shunted them into a large metal device ... Being dropped onto the spinning auger would be painful and extremely stressful for the chicks."

"This rapid and automated method of handling the chicks unavoidably put them at serious risk for injury. Some could get stuck in various parts of the machinery and be injured."

"It is my professional opinion that the manner in which the chicks depicted in the videotape were treated subjected them to pain and substantial stress. It was cruel by any normal definition of the word."

 

Karen Davis, PhD

Dr. Davis is the founder and president of United Poultry Concerns, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the respectful treatment of domestic fowl. Dr. Davis has over two decades of hands-on experience fostering, caring for, and rehabilitating domesticated fowl, primarily chickens and turkeys. Dr. Davis is the author of five comprehensive books, and numerous papers, on the welfare, intelligence, behavior, and treatment of poultry. Dr. Davis states:

"The hatchery footage I observed depicts a situation that is entirely violent to the chicks. Their bodies are handled harshly and carelessly, like inanimate objects, with no regard for the birds as sensitive, living creatures."

"Given that the nervous system of a chicken originates during the 21st hour of incubation, and that a chick has a fully developed nervous system at the time of hatching, it is reasonable to conclude, as a fact of neurophysiology, that the chicks are suffering extreme pain as they are being cut up by macerator blades."

"Based on the most up-to-date scientific knowledge of the neurological and behavioral complexity of birds, including chickens at the time of hatching, my opinion of the hatchery footage I observed is that the chicks shown in the footage are experiencing extreme mental and physical trauma at the hands of the workers and in the devices of the machinery designed to mutilate them."

 

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