A new and shocking investigation by US organisation Mercy For Animals has yet again highlighted the suffering of young chicks being hatched for egg producing hens.
Undercover Investigation at HY-Line Hatchery
This film contains images which may distress.
Hidden camera footage was obtained by Mercy For Animals at HY-Line International in Spencer, Iowa.
This particular investigation was carried out at a facility run by the HY-Line company. The video shows young chicks being grabbed by their fragile wings by workers known as "sexers," who separate males from females. These young animals are callously thrown into chutes and hauled away to their deaths. They are destined to die on day one because they cannot produce eggs and do not grow large or fast enough to be raised profitably for meat.
Their lives are cut short when they are dropped into a grinding machine - tossed around by a spinning auger before being torn to pieces by a high-pressure macerator. For the nearly 150,000 male chicks who hatch every 24 hours at this HY-Line facility, their lives begin and end the same day.
Over 30 million male chicks meet their fate this way each year at this US facility. In the UK it is estimated that over 20 million chicks are hatched for egg production annually. Millions of UK male chicks will either be gassed using carbon dioxide or also been sent into a macerator similar to that shown in the US film.
John Callaghan, Director of Programmes for Compassion in World Farming, said: "Of course people will be shocked to see such young and vulnerable creatures being both roughly handled and indeed killed in this way. Unfortunately most people do not realise that the male chicks are not used by the industry and are killed on the day they hatch. These scenes show an absolute disregard for the sentiency of these animals."
The US investigation also shows scenes of the surviving female chicks being de-beaked using an infra-red laser beam. The chick's beak is a highly sensitive part of its anatomy. In the UK the government is set to review the 2011 ban on beak trimming and is looking into allowing the infra- red method process post 2011. Compassion in World Farming believes that this is still an unnecessary mutilation.
John Callaghan said: "It is our view that it is wrong to mutilate chicks or any other farm animal to make them fit into husbandry systems that do not allow the animals to carry out their normal behaviours, or where they are kept in overcrowded conditions. De-beaking, whatever method used, is unnatural and almost certainly painful. Animals should be reared in conditions where such mutilations are unnecessary".
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