Breaking news: HSUS undercover video reveals Pilgrim’s Pride has much to hide

By on June 27, 2017 with 14 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

The HSUS’s latest undercover investigation has exposed extreme animal suffering at massive industrial chicken production and slaughtering facilities connected to the factory farm giant Pilgrim’s Pride. Pilgrim’s Pride is a Brazilian-owned food company that is the second largest chicken producer in the United States, producing more than a billion chickens a year.

In May, an HSUS undercover investigation documented egregious cruelty to animals at a slaughter facility owned by Pilgrim’s Pride in Texas. The HSUS continued our investigation into June and found disturbing abuse of chickens at an industrial farm in Georgia raising chickens under contract for Pilgrim’s.

Despite animal welfare assurances made by Pilgrim’s Pride, we documented major problems at both facilities. In Georgia, the facility’s owner bludgeoned chickens with a metal rod—revealing that the problems at this facility start right at the top. Our investigator concluded that the owner abused these birds to make catching them easier.

The owner also twisted birds’ necks in crude attempts to kill them, and grabbed animals by their necks and threw them around—seemingly, just to let off steam. The investigation documented animals packed wing-to-wing by the thousands, with their living environment thick with ammonia and other waste. Bred to grow extremely large extremely fast, these chickens suffered crippling leg deformities and injuries that prevented some from even being able to walk to their food and water.

At a Pilgrim’s Pride slaughter facility in Texas we investigated, there were different practices but similarly intense suffering. Workers punched and slammed birds into and at metal shackles—for no apparent reason other than to cause suffering, and perhaps a manifestation of the numbing and morally deadening environment typified by conventional industrial slaughter. Despite declarations from Pilgrim’s Pride that employees handling live chickens receive animal welfare training, the HSUS investigator employed at this Texas facility received no such training whatsoever. During a full week of orientation, the words “animal welfare” never crossed the lips of the training team.

For the last year, The HSUS and other animal protection organizations have been calling on the poultry industry, along with every major food company that sells chicken, to address the leading causes of suffering in this sector. Our “9 Billion Lives” campaign has exposed the systematic mistreatment of chickens—revealing standard problems in the breeding, housing, and slaughtering of these animals.

In response, major brands—Burger King, Subway, Jack in the Box, Chipotle, Sodexo, Aramark, and dozens more—have announced plans to vastly improve their poultry supply chains in order to minimize the suffering of animals they sell for sandwiches and other food items. What this investigation highlights is how desperately those reforms are needed—and how poultry producers themselves must become part of the solution and not the incubators of the problem.

The HSUS is calling on all major food companies to play a part in this transformation. For those that have already pledged reforms: we urge you to press the issue with your suppliers until they agree to your animal welfare requirements—or else drop them from your supply chain entirely. And to those brands that have yet to pledge reforms: we call on you today to join others in your industry in demanding a better future for your birds.

In a food production system largely built upon the backs (and wings) of animals, we cannot continue subjugating their most basic needs to such a pitiful degree. We can do better for these animals, and we must.

You can read our full report on these investigations detailing exactly what we found here.

Farm Animals, Investigations

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  1. Patricia Yager Delagrange says:

    This made me cry. I’m a vegetarian and don’t eat chicken but I try to educate my family about this sort of torture and cruelty. A lot of people simply don’t want to hear it.

  2. Robynne Catheron says:

    EXACTLY why I no longer eat animals. I can no longer bear the thought of any animal suffering like this and then dying just so I can eat it.

    Thank you, HSUS for consistently shedding light on these egregious inhumanities so the abusers can be held accountable, so things will improve, and so consumers know how their food reaches their plates.

  3. Angela grammatico says:

    They should find them a huge amount and shut down their facilities permanently

  4. Jean robinson says:

    Disgusting humans don’t need to eat dead bodies to be healthy they just drift along eating what’s put in front of them like zombies without a thought where it came from

  5. Deborah says:

    The Humane Society of the United States are, and will forever be, my heroes.

  6. Toni says:

    I, too, do not eat meat anymore due to this type of mistreatment in the US and around the world. I don’t know how organizations like the HSUS can handle seeing this every day, all day. As Deborah said, they are true heroes and I will continue to support their efforts through donations.

  7. Cathy Huffman Oaks says:

    Shame! Shame!

  8. Janie Sanders says:

    This needs to be stopped! How can people be so cruel and heartless. I wont forget the name Pilgrim Pride.

  9. Tim says:

    I’ve worked in every aspect from hatchery, broiler,eggs,debone processing,maintenance. And i can tell you, they care for the animals on individual terms in other words they are well taken care of all they way up. The only exception is the fact that you can’t tell if a man would do bad things to a bird or not but not because the company is not actively searching for these things. And it’s posted everywhere, but like I say if they are doing these things they don’t hesitate to investigate. And the system works unfortunately there is a system for a reason. But I managed a farm for 4 years if something happens a to the animals disease or whatnot they will be there fast and in my experience. World class Company. And ammonia and conditions are the responsibility of the caretaker. Looks like the waterline were not high enough so they were squat to drink and that is one of the hardest things to do but. Mostly because you live in fear that it could be to high or not leveled often. When all go right. The birds are happy healthy and walk fine kept cool and stress is not in there day. It’s only crowded just before sale. All natural organic substances will kill ammonia and keep it down. Only thing birds lack is a TV. Dont judge a company for individual actions of people. People hurt people but the law upholds strict rules. Hard to tell until catch them. This person will be caught though you can’t say that about people hurting other people. They have a system that work you think the company is out to loose money. When you build a garden still gotta keep fighting the weeds. Y’all don’t watch the news. That will make anyone not want to eat at all. I still eat pilgrims chicken there are however other companies without unions and expertise in operation that produce I will not eat and management and inexperience are to blame.

    • Dave says:

      Thank you so much for posting this!!! I have worked chicken farms before(and to someone ignorant about the business, they could easily ignorantly think someone was being cruel simply by general procedures), also I work at Pilgrims Pride and agree with you totally.

  10. Marilyn Rovang says:

    These companies must be hiring the unhirable! Who, in their right mind could treat animals this way? Low life individuals I guess. This happens to all animals in factory farming all over the world. I hate to say this but God needs to make an appearance. I love life but millions of animals don’t.

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