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Investigation: Chicks Crushed, Drowned, And Mutilated At American Hatchery

Animal Equality's latest undercover investigation exposes serious violations of California’s animal cruelty laws inside a major US chicken supplier.
17/12/2021

Animal Equality has released an undercover investigation documenting scenes of suffering and abuse of birds at a Foster Farms hatchery in Stanislaus County, California, USA.

This facility provides baby chickens to farms managed by Foster Farms, where they are raised and then slaughtered. Foster Farms supplies major American grocery chains including Walmart, Target and Costco, as well as the fast food chain Chick-fil-A. The investigation exposed serious violations of California’s animal cruelty laws and showed chicks routinely being brutally killed or left to slowly die from injuries. 

We documented chicks left to suffer for hours after being mutilated and severely injured by machinery, before they were dumped into a chute to be ground up while still alive. Chicks who were just a few hours old were found with their bodies ripped open and internal organs exposed. Others were caught or crushed by processing equipment that moved the birds along on conveyor belts. Some chicks became trapped in hatching trays and were pulled into washers, where they were scalded and drowned in hot water. 

Click to watch on YouTube. Viewer discretion is advised.

Animal welfare violations

Our investigation found serious criminal violations of animal cruelty laws: 

  • Newly hatched chicks were crushed or mutilated by automated processing machinery.
  • Live chicks were found drowning in water and chemical foam on the floors underneath conveyor belts.
  • One chick was discovered alive in a hatching tray that had gone through a washing machine which uses hot, high-pressure water.  
  • Injured birds were left in trays for hours before being dumped into a chute leading to a grinder. 
  • Other birds were dumped directly into buckets filled with shells, rancid yolks, and dead birds, where they drowned.  

Foster Farms’ lack of care results in the daily deaths of chicks who often suffer greatly from mutilation, drowning, or being scalded in an automated process with little welfare oversight.

Sean Thomas, Animal Equality’s International Director of Investigations

Animal Equality has presented its findings to the local District Attorney and Sheriff. Our evidence shows how Foster Farms subjects chicks to unnecessary suffering and fails to provide timely care and attention to injuries. Animal Equality is asking for criminal charges to be filed against Foster Farms for violating California animal cruelty laws.

How to help chicks

You can make a difference for chicks like these by sharing our investigation video and leaving them off your plate. With your support, we can help these suffering birds and ensure that in the future, chickens do not have to face the same brutal fate.


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