Diary on Hatchery Investigation

May 21, 2009

I was assigned to the "transfer room," working at a machine that moved eggs from one set of incubators into baskets and then into another set of incubators, from which the chicks would hatch in three days.

A small part of the facility has rooms for handling the chicks, while most of it is filled with incubation rooms containing racks of eggs for 300,000 chicks to hatch every day.

May 26, 2009

About 10 times today, we found live chicks in egg carts pulled from incubation rooms. At the order of one of our foremen, we placed these chicks in baskets with eggs and then sent the baskets into other incubation rooms. No water or food was given to these newly hatched chicks.

May 27, 2009

I saw a bloody chick on the floor slowly twitching and breathing. I asked a worker if the chick would live, and he told me to throw it away. Like every day, dozens of chicks from broken eggs were left to die in trashcans.

I helped clean the "separator," a machine that separates chicks from pieces of hatched eggshell. Baskets full of chicks are set onto a conveyor to move towards a rotating arm. The arm turns the baskets 90 degrees so that the chicks fall onto a conveyor made of rolling metal bars and then through to another conveyor of rolling metal bars. Un-hatched eggs and pieces of eggshell fall beneath the chicks. The chicks are then dropped about eight inches down to another conveyor that dumps them about another eight inches down to a third conveyor that runs them into the “sexing” room.

I asked a worker about the dead chicks in an eggshell collection bin of the separator. "Are those bad ones and dead ones, or some of them just fall in it?" She responded, "Some of them get on the floor and get wet and then they're no good. And those that were dumped down there were probably just dead ones that were stuck in the trays. That end of the machine is for washing the trays...if they're stuck in there, they get washed out and that's how come they're in there."

May 28, 2009

I saw one live chick, who appeared to have fluffy, dry feathers, stuck in the separator. She stood a couple inches from a conveyor of rolling metal bars and centimeters from a turning sprocket. I asked a cleaning worker, "If there's any live ones left in there, do I just knock 'em out?" She said, "Yeah, just spray 'em out."

May 29, 2009

Near the separator I saw a soaked chick struggling on the wet concrete floor, unable to stand.

While washing the separator room with a coworker, I found a wet chick on the floor, who was slightly moving and breathing but unable to stand, and another live chick, lying soaked among several dead bodies and pieces of eggshell in a collection bin, feebly moving his body and seemingly also unable to stand.

June 1, 2009

A worker instructed me to go through the baskets of female chicks by brushing my hand through them, looking for chicks that couldn’t walk, were deformed, or had obvious signs of injury. These were set aside and left overnight before being put in a grinder – many while still alive and conscious – the following morning. I never saw food, water, or veterinary care provided to these chicks.

I watched workers "sex birds." They quickly picked up the chicks and examined their wings tips. Female chicks have feathers of alternating lengths at the tips of their wings, while male chicks’ feathers are a uniform length at the tips of their wings. Workers then hastily tossed them into one of two different chutes, sending the males and females onto separate conveyors. Male chicks fell flailing, kicking and chirping off of their conveyor into a large metal grinder. I saw a bloody slush coming out of the bottom of the grinder.

Half of the chicks hatched every day are male, meaning that about 150,000 chicks are ground alive five days a week.

The plant manager told me that the ground-up male chicks were used in dog food and fertilizer.

I also observed the de-beaking stations. At each station, an employee inserts each chick's beak into one of many holes on a large panel, leaving them hanging by their heads. This de-beaking device sears the ends of their beaks, then drops the chicks into a metal chute and into plastic baskets where 100 are collected at a time. A worker explained to me that the chicks' beak tips will fall off a week after being burned.

June 2, 2009

I found two live chicks on the floor, chirping. I could only reach one, and handed the bird to a foreman who put the chick in a basket with eggs to be transferred to incubators. Chicks were hatching as we transferred the stacked egg baskets into the incubators. I saw about 15 live chicks placed in egg baskets. These baskets would remain in the incubators for three days. I did not see any food or water given to the chicks in the egg baskets.

June 3, 2009

I saw about 15 freshly hatched chicks placed in egg baskets and then into incubators without food or water.

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