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Email Content: Poultry Industry News, Comments and more by Simon M. Shane

Video from Compassion Over Killing Purports to Show Mishandling of Broilers


Compassion Over Killing, an advocacy organization, released a video on November 16th purporting to show mistreatment of broilers on the hanging line at a Maryland plant.

It appears that there is common cause among the pro-vegan, anti-broiler industry organizations and workers’ rights groups. At issue is increasing line speed from 140 to 175 birds per minute which is strongly opposed by unions representing USDA inspectors and those advocating for workers.

The video was apparently surreptitiously recorded during summer by a temporary worker and was publicized in the Washington Post. The clandestine video obtained in a plant operated by Amick Farms in Hurlock, MD has obviously been edited to create an impression of increased speed since the hanging operations as depicted do not reflect the realities of a plant, irrespective of line speed.

In reviewing the video it is apparent that there are obvious defects in positioning of workers and regulation of bird flow onto the conveyer belt. It is possible that the video represented an unplanned surge in release of birds from the transfer module delivering birds from transport coops to the pre-hanging conveyor. This might represent defective synchronization or a failure of supervision in the hanging room.

The video included captions implying deficiencies in operation resulting in DOAs and incompletely exsanguinated red birds, and by inference due to a higher line-speed. There was no indication of the proportion of either of these categories in relation to total volume processed. It is therefore impossible to determine whether alleged defective management in the plant or line-speed may or may not have contributed to escalation in numbers of either of the two categories above standard

In commenting on the video, Ben Harrison, President of Amick Farms stated “some of the actions in the video are clear violations of our animal welfare policies and our company values.” He added “we are taking all appropriate actions including but not limited to further training, swift disciplinary action and a more rigorous approach to ensuring compliance with our policies for the humane handling of our birds.”

Amick Farms management should ensure that a conscientious and trained supervisor is present in the hanging area, representing a critical area of operation with respect to welfare. In addition, video monitoring of the line would not only serve to manage the operation but also would be a record of whether deviations from accepted practice actually occurred.

According to a spokesperson for the USDA, the allegations are under investigation.

Copyright 2019 Simon M. Shane