Toronto/Vancouver/Fraser Valley – Vice-President of Mercy For Animals Krista Hiddema, has penned an Opinion piece to FVN Fraser Valley News.
These are her thoughts on this week’s disturbing story on chicken abuse at a local farm.
This Tuesday, Mercy For Animals released shocking new undercover video footage shot by a whistleblower at more than a dozen chicken factory farms in British Columbia that supply a Lilydale slaughterhouse in Port Coquitlam. This slaughterhouse supplies chicken to Loblaws grocery stores—so if Canadians eat chicken from their stores, they are probably participating in this abuse without even realizing it.
A man tries to rip a bird in half with his bare hands and then throws her badly mangled—but still flailing—body onto the ground for her to slowly die. Other workers punt and throw birds, slam them hard against walls and transport crates, tear the legs off fully conscious animals, and mimic sexually abusing them. Tragically, hidden-camera video released by Mercy For Animals Tuesday morning reveals exactly these abuses.
Available to the public at ChickenTorture.ca, the new graphic video shows Canadian workers treating chickens like pieces of garbage, not the conscious, feeling animals they are. It was shot by a whistleblower at more than a dozen chicken factory farms in British Columbia that supply a Lilydale slaughterhouse in Port Coquitlam. This slaughterhouse supplies chicken to Loblaws grocery stores—so if you eat chicken, you are probably participating in this abuse without even realizing it.
While the footage is disturbing, this is hardly the first animal abuse scandal for Lilydale. This latest video comes on the heels of another video exposé by Mercy For Animals in October showing turkeys at a Lilydale slaughterhouse violently slammed upside down into metal shackles, sliced open while still conscious and able to feel pain, and scalded alive in hot-water defeathering tanks. Despite mounting consumer pressure, Lilydale has failed to take any meaningful action to end the worst forms of animal abuse in its supply chain—placing profit over even the most basic decency. Mercy For Animals is calling on Loblaws to implement animal welfare policies to ensure Lilydale and its other poultry suppliers aren’t torturing animals.
But this isn’t just about Lilydale or Loblaws. Chickens are the most abused animals on the planet. More chickens are killed for food than all other land animals combined—680 million chickens annually in Canada alone. Too often, chickens don’t even “make it” to slaughter. At these factory-like facilities, countless chickens—just like the ones in this new video—are literally tortured to death.
And make no mistake: They feel it. Chickens are not only complex and intelligent beings but also experience immense pain and fear.
Chickens also form intricate social structures that include families and friends. Rapid eye movement means they dream when they sleep, just like we do. Give them some sunshine, and just like a cat they will bathe in it. Lovingly pet them, and they will purr. Sadly, factory-farmed chickens will never see the sun or know anything but the stuff of nightmares.
Even if they aren’t being ripped to death by workers, chickens grown for their flesh endure lives filled with misery and deprivation. So-called broiler chickens spend their entire lives in filthy sheds where overcrowding leads to disease. Chickens are bred to grow so quickly that their legs and organs can’t keep up, making death from deformities, heart attacks, and organ failure common. If they manage to live for six or seven weeks, their breasts sometimes too heavy for the birds to even reach food or water without severe pain, they are sent to slaughter.
Clearly we need stronger laws and oversight of the chicken industry to ensure that the most basic animal welfare comes before profits.
Mercy For Animals is demanding prosecution of the workers caught sadistically abusing animals. But punishment alone is not enough. This is not a case of a few bad apples—this is a rotting tree. In fact, all 12 Mercy For Animals investigations of randomly selected facilities in Canada have uncovered abuse that shocks and horrifies most people. It’s time for systemic change. Offenders like Lilydale must change their policies to ensure this stops.
That’s why Mercy For Animals is urging major Lilydale customer Loblaws to require third-party audits, live-stream video surveillance, and a zero tolerance policy for animal abuse at its supplier farms to deter the most heinous acts of worker violence. Mercy For Animals is also asking the company to improve genetic selection and monitoring systems for poultry in its supply chain to prevent lameness and other serious health issues and to end live-shackle slaughter in favor of less cruel systems that eliminate the horrific suffering caused by shackling, shocking, and slitting the throats of conscious animals.
If this egregious animal abuse upsets you, and you expect more from Canadian companies, know you are not powerless. You can sign the Change.org petition calling on Loblaws to adopt meaningful changes in its supply chain and share this new disturbing video so that other Canadian consumers can learn the truth.
And of course, if you don’t do so already, please consider helping end animal abuse at factory farms by leaving chickens and other animals off your plate. It is the most significant step you can take to end the cycle of suffering. While Lilydale and Loblaws should be held responsible for this animal abuse, the fact remains that without our demand for their products, it wouldn’t have existed in the first place.