A shocking new undercover video reveals egregious acts of violence and abuse at Tyson Foods, the nation’s largest chicken producer, that prompted the company to immediately end the cruel practice of “boning.” Tyson also fired 10 employees, stated it was “disgusted and outraged by what’s shown in this video” and acknowledged that “we must do more to stop this inexcusable behavior.” Read Tyson’s full statement.
Filmed by a COK investigator who worked inside several Tyson facilities throughout Virginia, the footage offers a shocking, never-before-seen look behind the closed doors of chicken breeding factory farms, known as “broiler breeder” farms. This is where America’s chicken dinner begins.
Despite Tyson’s public “Commitment to Animal Well-Being,” including the “internationally-recognized Five Freedoms,” COK’s video documents a hauntingly different story.
Among the most disturbing acts caught on camera is the inhumane killing of birds, including a Tyson supervisor suffocating animals by standing on their heads and instructing workers to do the same, while admitting it’s against company policy and is cruel.
Update - Sep, 2017 - COK Video Prompts Groundbreaking Cruelty Charges & Convictions:
Compassion Over Killing's gut-wrenching investigation of Tyson Foods, the nation's largest chicken producer, prompted groundbreaking firsts in the protection of broiler chickens.
This eye-opening video provided the first investigative look behind the closed doors of broiler breeder factory farms.
Our investigator documented for the first time on hidden-camera the brutal practice of using "nose bones," stabbing a dull plastic rod through the nostrils of male breeder birds. The powerful footage led Tyson to immediately end the practice, quickly leading Perdue and Wayne Farms to follow suit.
Now, nine former employees of Tyson Foods have been convicted of 22 counts of animal cruelty in the first-ever convictions for cruelty to broiler breeder chickens.
COK’s investigative footage provided evidence that drove multiple trials, convictions and plea agreements over the course of several weeks — the first-ever trials for animal cruelty to chickens raised for meat.
"Compassion Over Killing applauds the prosecution's work and the decisions from the court to uphold anti-cruelty laws and protect animals from such horrific cruelty to birds as documented by our undercover investigator working for Tyson," said Cheryl Leahy, General Counsel for Compassion Over Killing. "This is a landmark victory in achieving justice for farm animals."
Among those convicted was the owner of a farm contracted by Tyson Foods, sentenced to 30 days in jail (suspended) and barred for two years from supervising a chicken production crew.
COK’s video documents Tyson workers punching and kicking live birds, birds crushed to death by transport crates and run over by forklifts, and other horrific cruelty, including a barbaric chicken industry practice — known as “boning” — that had never before been documented on hidden camera.
In a release issued today by the Commonwealth of Virginia, state Attorney General Mark Herring firmly stated, “Mistreatment of animals is both inhumane and illegal, and I’m glad to see the perpetrators of these crimes brought to justice.”
“These convictions send a clear, strong signal across the Commonwealth that my team and I take these crimes seriously, and that those who commit cruelty to animals will be held accountable for their actions.” - Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring
While the use of nose “bones” was once widely practiced in the chicken industry, COK’s unprecedented footage of this painful practice prompted a cruelty conviction of one now former Tyson employee, prohibited from working with animals for five years.
Prosecuting the cases for the Virginia Office of the Attorney General were Senior Assistant Attorney General Michelle Welch — who also prosecuted in the highly-publicized Michael Vick dogfighting case — and Assistant Attorney General Kelci Block.
For full details on the convictions, see the state’s press release here.
Update - August 10, 2016 - After Tyson Foods viewed COK's investigative video exposing Tyson employees engaging in violent acts of abuse against chickens inside several different contract broiler breeder facilities in Virginia, the company issued the following statement at 5:15pm EST.
Regarding the Compassion Over Killing video sent to three county attorneys in Virginia last week and finally made available for us to view on Tuesday, the following comments are provided by Dr. Christine Daugherty, vice president of sustainable food production for Tyson Foods:
“I’m disgusted and outraged by what’s shown in this video. We do not tolerate animal abuse and have fired ten people who were members of this crew. It was an obvious decision once we were finally able to review the video Tuesday afternoon.
“The people shown in the video by Compassion Over Killing were all trained in proper animal handling, yet chose to ignore it and failed to alert management about the despicable treatment on these farms.
“Animals in our care deserve to be treated humanely. It’s our responsibility to ensure that everyone who works for our company behaves properly. Our management team is dedicated to continue fostering a culture of proper animal handling.”
In addition to firing these individuals, Tyson Foods is taking the following actions:
• We’re in the process of meeting with everyone in our chicken operations who handles live birds to aggressively re-emphasize the importance of proper animal handling and the consequences of not complying with the company’s animal welfare policies.
- • This week we will conduct a video conference with live production management at all of our poultry locations where senior poultry management will stress our cultural commitment to proper animal handling.
- • The practice of beak modification shown in the video is a historical way the industry has used to keep males from eating food intended for females and Tyson Foods has been eliminating its use. It had been stopped at all but two chicken operations and now has been immediately discontinued at those two locations as well.
• We have already reached out to local authorities who will decide whether to pursue criminal charges against these individuals. We will fully cooperate with their investigation.
While we already have animal well-being audit and training programs, we believe we haven’t gone far enough and must do more to stop this inexcusable behavior. We’re evaluating additional steps we can take to make sure animal well-being procedures are being followed throughout our chicken operations. Once we complete our investigation into this matter, we intend to implement any measures necessary to protect the well-being of the birds being raised for our company.
“This ain’t the right way to do it now, but he bloody, get all over my gloves. But you can’t let nobody see you doing this, ‘cause it will get you terminated…it’s got him suffering doing this to him…”
- Tyson supervisor
Tyson Investigation Photos
COK’s undercover video also reveals:
- Tyson workers punching and kicking live birds
- Birds crushed to death by transport crates and run over by forklifts
- Chickens swung around by their wings and thrown across sheds
- Workers shoving and slamming birds into transport cages
“This level of violence and abuse is so egregious, it violates Virginia state animal protection laws — and it violates consumer trust. Tyson should be held accountable for the horrors inflicted upon these animals,” says Compassion Over Killing Executive Director, Erica Meier. “Tyson, the titan of this industry, is literally crushing the life out of birds.”
Captured for perhaps the first time up close on camera, COK’s investigator also documented the brutal and unnecessary practice of “boning” — a practice only used in the broiler breeder industry. Performed without pain relief, “boning” involves workers grabbing young male breeder birds by their heads and stabbing a dull plastic rod (called a “bone”) through their sensitive nostrils. The wide “bone” is intended to limit the birds’ food intake in order to curb their growth.
COK submitted its evidence to relevant county authorities, calling for prompt enforcement action. The cases are currently under investigation.
Based in Arkansas, Tyson is a major supplier to McDonald’s, Burger King, Walmart, KFC, Wendy’s, Chick-Fil-Aand other food service giants.
Tyson & Other Top Poultry Companies End Cruel Practice!
Victory: After viewing our video, Tyson issued a statement announcing that it will immediately stop this cruel practice of stabbing a dull plastic “bone” through the nostrils of young male breeder birds!
More impact: Since Tyson made this important announcement, COK has been reaching out to other companies about the cruel “boning” practice. So far Perdue and Wayne Farms have responded to us stating they have now also eliminated this practice, and House of Raeford is phasing it out by early 2018!
2018 update: 17 of the top 20 US poultry producers have confirmed to COK that they have stopped or not use “nose bones!”
We are encouraging other companies to follow this lead — though much more still needs to be done:
“They going to kick, they more they kick, you squeeze on that head.”
- Tyson supervisor
What is “Boning”? COK’s video prompts Tyson to end this barbaric practice
After viewing COK’s investigative video, Tyson announced that it is immediately ending the painful and barbaric practice of stabbing a dull plastic rod, called a “bone,” into the sensitive nostrils of young male breeder birds before they are transferred to a breeder house with females.
During the “boning” process, these male birds are rounded up, grabbed one by one by their wings or head, and workers forcefully insert the bone. As the chickens struggle desperately to escape during this painful and frightening process, workers respond by handling the birds with increasing aggression and violence.
In a statement regarding COK’s footage, Dr. Ian Duncan, an internationally renowned poultry welfare expert, said boning“causes severe pain” for the birds, and that the rods can become entangled in netting, as COK’s investigator documented while freeing a struggling chicken from a net (seen below). Dr. Duncan is Professor Emeritus and Emeritus Chair in Animal Welfare at the University of Guelph.
Why is this practice done? The wide plastic “bones” physically block the birds from accessing certain food dispensers, severely restricting the birds’ food intake.
Birds raised for meat are genetically manipulated to grow so obese, so quickly that they commonly suffer from various health ailments, including leg deformities and heart attacks, that can be fatal. In order to keep breeder birds alive for up to two years, their feed is severely restricted to prevent the birds from becoming overweight, even though this is specifically what they are selectively bred to do.
As a result, broiler breeders spend their lives in perpetual starvation.
Based in Springdale, Arkansas, Tyson Foods is the nation’s largest chicken producer, supplying major food service companies including McDonald’s, Burger King, Walmart, KFC, Wendy’s, Chick-Fil-A and others.
Among the brands owned by Tyson are Jimmy Dean, Hillshire Farm, Ball Park, and Sara Lee.
Despite Tyson’s public “Commitment to Animal Well-Being,” including the “internationally-recognized Five Freedoms,” COK’s video documents a hauntingly different story, including never-before-seen footage of what is known as “boning” inside a broiler breeder factory farm.
This is not the first time Tyson Foods has been exposed for egregious animal abuse, demonstrating that torture is a standard practice for this industry titan.
“ “This is gross cruelty causing unnecessary pain and suffering and a contravention of animal cruelty laws in all civilized countries.”
- Ian J.H. Duncan
- Washington Post: 'You can't let nobody see': Tyson workers caught on video mistreating chickens
- USA Today: Secret video prompts Tyson to retrain chicken plant workers
- USA Today: 5 times activists infiltrated Tyson's chicken facilities
- NY Daily News: Tyson Foods to retrain workers after release of undercover video showing staff brutalizing birds
- Inquisitr: Tyson Foods chicken video
- Slate: Undercover Video Shows Tyson Food Employees Abusing Chickens
- Grub Street: Here's the secret, predictably horrible video that convinced Tyson to retrain its workers
- Consumerist: Tyson fires employees linked to graphic video of abused chickens
- DCist: Graphic video: Tyson Foods workers abusing chickens in Virginia factories
- US News & World Report: Animal rights group records Tyson Foods employees horrifically abusing chickens
- UK Daily Mail: 'It's inhumane': Workers at Tyson Foods plants caught on videotape punching, kicking, suffocating chickens and shoving plastic rods through their beaks
- Reuters: Tyson fires 10 U.S. workers after video captures chicken abuse
- Associated Press: Video showing cruelty at Tyson chickens farms prompts firings
- Richmond Times-Dispatch: Cruelty at Tyson chicken farms in Virginia prompts firings, change
- Heavy: Tyson chicken 'animal abuse' undercover video
- Newsy: Tyson Fires Employees After Another Animal Cruelty Video Surfaces
- Telemundo: Acusan de abuso animal a procesadora Tyson Foods de EEUU
- NewsFix: Tyson changing its ways after undercover activists record gruesome chicken farm
- Newser: Video Shows Tyson Foods Workers Choking, Hitting Chickens
- VegNews: Video Exposes Animal Cruelty at Tyson Poultry Plant
- MSN: Undercover video exposes abuses at Tyson Foods poultry farm
- Huffington Post: Undercover Footage Reveals 'Culture of Animal Cruelty' on Tyson Farms
- Associated Press: Video muestra maltrato animal en granjas avícolas Tyson
- Morning News USA: Tyson Foods Chicken Abuse Exposed! Birds Wrung, Suffocated And Left To Decay
- The Sun: Shocking footage shows workers at chicken supplier to KFC and McDonald's abuse live birds
- Food Dive: Animal cruelty reported at Tyson farm leads to firings and new policies
- 47 ABC: Video exposes Tyson workers mistreating animals
- Care2: Animal Cruelty Investigation Leads to Changes at Tyson, But Are They Enough?
- La Prensa: Crueldad en Tyson Foods: Te retamos a comer pollo después de ver este video
- Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: Tyson fires 10 in chicken-abuse video
- Telegraaf: Ontslagen om 'gruwelijke' kippenmishandeling
Tyson Exposed Again: Take Action for Chickens!
Compassion Over Killing’s investigators shine a bright light into the darkest corners of animal agribusiness, exposing the brutal treatment of farm animals kept hidden behind closed doors.
Sadly, the abuses documented at Tyson are not isolated incidents. Our newest footage marks the second time in little more than a year that we have exposed systematic animal abuse within this chicken titan’s supply chain.
Thankfully, there are simple steps YOU — and each one of us — can take to make a difference for farm animals.