As the nation’s largest chicken producer, Tyson Foods may feel proud to touts its public “Commitment to Animal Well-Being,” which includes the “internationally-recognized Five Freedoms.”
But what happens behind this poultry giant’s closed doors, when the company thinks no one is watching, tells a starkly different story.
Working inside Atlantic Farm in Virginia, a Tyson-contracted factory farm with more than 225,000 birds crowded into filthy, barren sheds, a COK investigator documented birds being violently slammed or thrown around; workers killing sick or injured birds by brutally bludgeoning or stepping on them; birds crushed to death by forklifts; one worker impaling live chicks with a nail at the end of a metal pipe, and other rampant horrors.
This gut-wrenching footage marks the second time in more than a year that a COK investigation has exposed Tyson’s torture. In 2016, a COK investigation inside multiple Tyson Foods broiler breeder factories in Virginia revealed similar violent abuses: workers punching, kicking, and throwing live birds, birds crushed by forklifts, and more. That evidence drove the first court trials for cruelty to broiler birds (chickens raised for meat), resulting in nine former Tyson employees being convicted of 24 counts of animal cruelty. The video also prompted Tyson to end the barbaric practice of stabbing a plastic nose “bone” through the nostrils of male breeder birds, but Tyson has yet to address a root cause of suffering: rapid growth.
Both of these shocking COK investigations uncover a tradition of torture that goes far beyond the intentional acts of violence and abuse. These videos reveal the painful reality of chicken production in the United States: baby birds forced to endure the crushing burden of genetic manipulation for unnaturally fast growth. These birds are bred to grow so obese, so quickly their legs often cripple under the weight of their overgrown bodies.
Genetic manipulation of birds for rapid growth is standard throughout the chicken industry. In the 1950s, it took 84 days to raise a five-pound chicken. Today, because of selective breeding and growth-promoting drugs, birds reach slaughter weight in just 45 days. If humans grew at the same rate as a factory-farmed chicken, we’d weigh 660 pounds by the time we turned two months old.
As the nation’s largest poultry producer, it’s long past time for Tyson Foods to step up and demonstrate it’s a true leader by ending its cruel genetic manipulation of birds for unnaturally fast growth, and move toward the future of food, as consumer demand is already pointing to: plant-based protein.
The statement Tyson put out in response to the investigation, via this article in The Washington Post: