An animal rights group released video today it says was shot during an undercover investigation of the Hy-Line chicken hatchery in Spencer. Mercy For Animals of Chicago Executive Director Nathan Runkle says the investigator used a hidden camera after gaining employment at the factory for two weeks in May and June. Runkle says the video "documented a list of horrific animal cruelty."
Runkle says that cruelty included "workers violently throwing birds, birds being snapped by their fragile necks and being mutilated without painkillers, industrial equipment injuring and killing birds, chicks going through scolding wash cycles while they are still alive, and all of the male chicks being ground up while they are still alive."
Runkle says they are calling on the 50 largest grocery chains in America to put labels on the eggs they sell. He says the labels would read "warning male chicks are ground up alive by the egg industry." Runkle says,"This is the egg industry’s best kept dirty secret, that every year over 200 million male chicks who are useless to the egg industry because the are males and they don’t produce eggs and they are a breed that they don’t grow large or fast enough to be raised profitably for meat, so these birds are considered a byproduct."
Runkle says state laws don’t protect farm animals, and neither do the federal statutes. He says federal laws exempt all poultry and most farm animals from being protected, not only at hatcheries, but also at factory farms, during transport and during slaughter. Runkle says,"This is another issue that we’re hoping to bring awareness to, is the fact that farm animals do not receiver the same sort of protection under the law from horrific cruelty that dogs and cats do, but of course these animals suffer and feel pain in just the same way."
Hy-Line released a statement saying the video "appears to show an inappropriate action and violation of our animal welfare policies. We have initiated an immediate investigation of the entire situation although it would have been more beneficial had we been aware of the potential violation immediately after it occurred." It goes on to say that any employees involved will be disciplined per company policy, up to and including termination.
Hy-Line spokesperson Tom Jorgenson told Spencer radio station KICD that the company has decided not to do any TV or radio interviews at this time and will release further information once their investigation is complete. You can see the video on the Mercy for Animals website .