Stop Heating Chickens to Death on Poultry Farms

Target: Tom Vilsack, United States Secretary of Agriculture

Goal: Stop funding the mass suffocation and killing of birds in heated barns.

On farms across the U.S., a strain of bird flu has once again been spreading in chickens, turkeys, and other birds. This flu—which can, in some cases, be transmitted to humans— is highly contagious and is transferred between birds by contact with sick individuals. This makes birds on factory farms extremely susceptible to outbreaks, as hundreds of thousands of birds are forced into close confines, living among each others’ feces and corpses of dead birds. To limit the spread of this disease in domestic birds, farmers have taken to killing tens of millions of birds through a considerably cruel method, referred to as ventilation shutdown plus (VSD+).

Though typically a “last resort” option, VSD+ is actually pretty common, and was used to kill hundreds of thousands of healthy animals during the pandemic when slaughterhouses were closed. This method entails sealing animals in a barn and turning off the airflow, while turning up the heat and, in some cases, even turning on carbon dioxide to aid the process. Temperatures in the barn can get to be over 170 degrees Fahrenheit, inducing heat stroke in the potentially tens of thousands of animals that may suffer for up to hours before losing consciousness. In a recent NCSU study, single hens were enclosed in small boxes and subjected to the VSD+ process to see what happens at each stage. Their responses were recorded, and observers were horrified at what they saw. Stressed birds writhed, gasped, and even threw themselves against the walls of the box to escape as they continued to get hotter and hotter. Of course, to no avail. Eventually, the hens collapsed, overcome by heat, stress, and suffocation.

As it currently stands, the USDA uses tax-payer funded financial compensation for factory farms that kill birds during bird flu epidemics, including those that employ cruel VSD+ methods for the mass killings. Alternative options to kill these animals exist, but operators aren’t willing to explore them, as they believe VSD+ to be the cheapest and easiest. Sign this petition to demand an end to this torturous method of mass murder, and for other, more humane, and quicker methods to be enforced instead.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Secretary Vilsack,

In response to the recent outbreak of avian flu in domestic birds, factory farms throughout the U.S. have been killing tens of thousands of chickens, turkeys, geese, and other birds. One of the most common methods employed is that of ventilation shutdown plus, or VSD+. Though regarded as a “last resort” option, the use of VSD+ has increased in the past few years. During the pandemic, it was used to kill hundreds of thousands of perfectly healthy animals due to slaughterhouse shutdowns.

In this method of mass murder, animals are locked in a sealed barn with no chance of escape, and airflow is turned off. Heat, or even carbon dioxide, are then turned on to speed up the process that induces heat stroke in stressed out birds. Researchers have observed the process in controlled experiments, and noted that birds involved suffered immensely. As boxes got hotter and hotter, birds were observed writhing, gasping, and even throwing themselves against the wall of the box to try and escape. The process can take upwards of hours to kill the hundreds or tens of thousands of birds sealed together. Birds slowly suffocate to death, and are extremely stressed as heat stroke gradually sets in.

We are asking you, Mr. Vilsack, to please stop compensating farmers who use this method to murder their animals, and instead to encourage alternative options that are more humane for the birds that suffer as a result.

Sincerely,

{Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Nom d’util


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