An undercover video has been released courtesy of Mercy for Animals that shows baby male chicks routinely ground up alive or left to die as they fall to the floor.
The video also shows female chicks slated to become egg laying hens trapped in overcrowded cages for life, unable to flap their wings or move around very much, are moved along on a factory assembly line like manufactured goods. They are placed in one machine that removes the shell and they are then moved along an assembly line as they are sorted and strapped to debeakers, where their beaks are brutallly ripped off. Workers toss them about, looking for any that are too sick, injured or deformed to be used as egg laying hens.
The video is very disturbing. The footage was made at a hatchery owned by Hy-Line in Iowa.
But, there is nothing illegal going on there. Under Iowa law, the abuse and torture of the chicks is not illegal as long as it is not "inconsistent with customary animal husbandry practices." Iowa Code § 717.2 There are no federal laws that prohibit this brutality. Chickens and other birds are not protected under the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, 7 USCS § 1901-1906.
The United Egg Producers, a trade group, has stated this is a commonly accepted practice in the industry. Its spokesman, Mitch Head, says there is no other way to "breed eggs that only produce female hens". He said there is "no market" for the 200 million baby male chicks ground alive each year.
As a commonly accepted husbandry practice, it is not illegal in Iowa or most states, for that matter.