New Exposé Reveals Egregious Cruelty at USDA-Approved High-Speed Chicken Slaughterhouse, as Trump Administration Allows More Plants to Speed Up Kill Lines

November 16, 2018 — Today, Compassion Over Killing (COK) released gut-wrenching undercover footage exposing the horrors of high-speed chicken slaughter, on the heels of the Trump administration’s decision to grant waivers allowing more plants to increase already dangerous line speeds from 140 to 175 birds killed each minute.

The hidden-camera footage, filmed by a COK investigator working inside Amick Farms in Maryland, reveals birds violently pushed or thrown down the line hurtling toward their death.

COK’s video documents:

  • Workers punching, shoving, or throwing birds as they keep up with line speeds
  • Birds slowly drowning in electrified stunning baths during equipment break-down
  • “Red birds,” with blood seen under their skin – evidence they were scalded alive

Amick Farms is one of 20 plants originally given permission by the USDA to run slaughter lines at speeds of up to 175 birds per minute, totaling around one million birds each week. Recently, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service granted waivers to four more plants to increase their speeds, and it’s expected that this trend will continue.

As COK’s video reveals, faster slaughter line speeds could mean more suffering for birds raised for meat, who already endure filthy, overcrowded conditions as well as the crippling effects of being genetically manipulated for unnatural rapid growth.

After reviewing COK’s footage, Dr. Sara Shields, an animal welfare and behavior specialist, stated, “Birds can be seen–still hanging from the shackles–in the water bath…it is likely that the birds would have experienced prolonged, possibly painful electrical shock while they died of drowning. This situation is totally unacceptable from an animal welfare perspective.”

Workers, too, are suffering the impact of having to stay on pace with the fast slaughter line, already working in one of the nation’s most dangerous industries, where severe injuries are common.

While working there even for a short time, COK’s investigator suffered crippling pain and other hand injuries. Many employees removed their shirts in the extreme heat inside the facility, operating dangerous machinery without even basic protection covering their skin.

This isn’t the first time COK has exposed high-speed horrors in the meat industry. In 2015 a COK investigator worked inside a high-speed plant supplying Hormel, revealing pigs shocked, dragged, and pulled to the kill floor; animals covered in feces and pus-filled abscesses processed for human consumption with a USDA seal of approval; and more.

COK has delivered over a quarter million petition signatures to the USDA, while the agency also considers over 83,500 public comments about its high-speed program, many in opposition over animal and worker safety concerns, as the final rule is made.

“USDA’s plan to allow even more slaughterhouses to increase kill line speeds that are already dangerously fast is a reckless step backwards. Animals, workers, and consumers need more protection, not less,” says Erica Meier, Executive Director, Compassion Over Killing.

For investigative footage, visit


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