Stop Cruelty at Chicken Farms


Target: Tom Vilsack, United States Secretary of Agriculture

Goal: Extend animal protection laws to include chickens and other birds

Serious breaches of animal protection legislation have been uncovered at a chicken processing plant by an investigation conducted by the Humane Society of the United States. Undercover investigators posing as workers at Butterfield Foods in southwest Minnesota found many birds having their throats cut while still conscious because stunning equipment had failed. Other chickens were thrown alive into boiling water during the de-feathering process.

Butterfield Foods kills and processes egg-laying hens that are no longer laying eggs at an economically viable rate. The hens, which have already lived a life of misery in a tiny battery cage, are too damaged to be consumed whole. After killing them, the plant processes the chicken meat into tiny chunks to be used in soups and pet foods.

During slaughter, United States chickens are hung upside down from their feet and dragged through an electrified water bath to stun them. They then have their throats cut and are left to bleed out for 90 seconds before being thrown in vats of scalding water to remove their feathers. In the US, it is required that all livestock, such as cows, pigs and sheep, are stunned before being slaughtered. Chickens, unfortunately, receive no protection during slaughter or afterward, when they are placed alive in de-feathering tanks.

Chickens are small but intelligent creatures that deserve as much protection from cruelty as any other animal. While the Humane Society has submitted its case to a prosecutor, the case would be much more likely to succeed if chickens had more legal protection. Sign the petition below to demand that chickens are places under the protection of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act.


Dear Mr. Tom Vilsack,

In a recent investigation by the Humane Society, Butterfield Foods in southwest Minnesota was found to be slitting chicken’s throats while they were conscious and throwing live animals into vats of boiling water. While the investigation has been forwarded to a prosecutor, it is unlikely that the farm will be punished for their cruelty as neither of these things is forbidden under US law.

The Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, which requires livestock to be stunned and unconscious before slaughter, does not protect turkeys, chickens, or other birds. This is unfair and allows chickens, which feel the same pain and panic as pigs or cows during slaughter, to be abused. We, the undersigned, demand  a long-overdue amendment to the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act to protect birds killed for food purposes.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Ronald Duncan via WikiMedia Commons

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