In the latest undercover investigation into animal abuse at factory farms, we see, in the same cages as living chickens, birds who have been dead so long their bodies are mummified.
This morning the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) accused Kreider Farms of “extreme animal abuse” and unsanitary conditions.
The HSUS statement describes “injured and dead hens, including mummified bird carcasses” in the same cages as live hens who lay eggs for human consumption as well as chickens who had their heads, legs or wings trapped in cage wires and feeding machinery.
The Kreider Farms egg factory, in Manheim, Penn., houses seven million egg-laying hens, according to the HSUS.
On its website, Kreider Farms says that number is closer to five million and says the farms are dedicated to being “stewards of the land, operating clean, efficient and state-of-the-art facilities and creating a work environment of openness, honesty, trust, and personal satisfaction.”
The HSUS says its investigation was conducted in February and March, and that the problems were documented by the investigator included:
- Birds were severely overcrowded in cages more cramped than the national average; each hen received only 54–58 square inches of space on which to spend her life.
- Injured and dead hens, including mummified bird carcasses, were found inside cages with living hens laying eggs for human consumption.
- Hens were left without water for days when a water source malfunctioned, causing many to die.
- Hens’ legs, wings, and heads were found trapped in cage wires and automated feeding machinery.
- A thick layer of dead flies on the barn floors caused a crunching sound when walking on it.
New York Times columnist Nick Kristoff spoke with the undercover investigator. He writes:
“It’s physically hard to breathe because of the ammonia” rising from manure pits below older barns, said the investigator, who would not allow his name to be used because that would prevent him from taking another undercover job in agriculture. He said that when workers needed to enter an older barn, they would first open doors and rev up exhaust fans, and then rush in to do their chores before the fumes became overwhelming.
Mice sometimes ran down egg conveyer belts, barns were thick with flies and manure in three barns tested positive for salmonella, he said. (Actually, salmonella isn’t as rare as you might think, turning up in 3 percent of egg factory farms tested by the Food and Drug Administration last year.)
… An automatic feeding cart that runs between the cages sometimes decapitates hens as they’re eating, the investigator said. Corpses are pulled out if they’re easy to see, but sometimes remain for weeks in the cages, piling up until they have rotted into the wiring, he added.
Other hens have their heads stuck in the wire and are usually left to die.
… Somehow, fried eggs don’t taste so good if you imagine the fetid barn in which they were laid.
Here’s some video from the HSUS. Like all videos from factory farms, it is harrowing:
Kreider Farms, whose website portrays an image of happy animals on a bucolic family farm, claims to have the “newest and most state-of-the-art egg processing facilities available anywhere in the United States." But it is one of the few egg producers in the U.S. which doesn’t support federal legislation aimed at improving conditions for America’s laying hens, and providing a stable and secure future for egg farmers. The bill in the U.S. Congress, H.R. 3798, the Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2012, would phase in new housing systems for hens over the next 15 to 18 years, providing them far more space and ensuring that cages contain environmental enrichments such as perches and nesting areas.