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Thrown, dropped, mutilated, and ground-up alive. This is the shocking reality faced by hundreds of thousands of chicks each day at the world's largest egg-laying breed hatchery – Hy-Line International in Spencer, Iowa.
Hidden camera footage obtained at this facility during a Mercy For Animals undercover investigation gives a disturbing glimpse into the cruel and industrialized reality of modern hatcheries.
The warm, comforting, and protective wings of these newly hatched chicks' mothers have been replaced with massive machines, quickly moving conveyor belts, harsh handling, and distressing noise. These young animals are sorted, discarded, and handled like mere cogs in a machine.
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. 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.
Over 30 million male chicks meet their fate this way each year at this facility.
For the surviving females, this is the beginning of a life of cruelty and confinement at the hands of the egg industry. Before even leaving the hatchery they will be snapped by their heads into a spinning debeaker – a portion of their sensitive beaks removed by a laser. Workers toss and rummage through them before they are placed 100 per crowded box and shipped across the country.
The callous disregard for animal welfare at this facility is not isolated. In fact, the conditions documented during this investigation are completely standard and acceptable within the commercial egg industry. Referred to by Hy-Line corporate leaders as mere "genetic products," these chicks are treated just as they are viewed – as inanimate objects, rather than the sentient creatures they are.
Egg producers have gone to great lengths to hide their cruel practices from consumers. Grocery aisles from coast-to-coast are stocked with egg cartons featuring idyllic images of free-roaming hens and crowing roosters. These deceptive marketing gimmicks conceal the cruel and violent nature of industrial hatcheries and egg factory farms.
Consumers have a right to know the truth behind egg production.
Citing the troubling findings of this investigation, Mercy For Animals is calling on the nation's 50 largest grocery chains to require that all eggs sold in their stores bear a label reading, "Warning: Male chicks are ground-up alive by the egg industry."
Hopefully, armed with the sobering truth, consumers nationwide will be able to make informed and compassionate food choices.
Driven by consumer demand, the egg industry will continue to exploit, abuse, and kill day-old animals as long as doing so remains profitable. Empowered consumers can put their ethics on the table by choosing kindness over cruelty at each meal by adopting an animal-friendly vegan diet.