On Sept. 1, PETA posted a video on its Web site based on an “undercover investigation” by the pro-vegan group, Mercy for Animals, showing operations at a Hy-Line hatchery in Spencer, Iowa. This investigation supposedly showed a number of cruel and abusive practices, and focused primarily on the euthanizing of the male chicks. 

That same day, Hy-Line International and Hy-Line North America issued a statement which said that the care and safety of the birds and employees is the company’s first priority. Hy-Line also said that they have initiated an immediate investigation to see if any animal welfare policies were violated and to take disciplinary action against anyone violating company policy. Hy-Line stated that the company is committed to meeting or exceeding all industry poultry welfare standards.

The video was taken in late May/early June, but just released. Hy-Line stated that the company wishes that it would have been made aware of the allegations immediately, so that a timelier investigation could have been made. 

The video was in the PETA blog section, titled: “Unwanted Males Mutilated and Killed at Birth.” The blog emphasized the main points made on the video: Workers at an Iowa hatchery kill newborn male chicks every single day. Workers grab them by their wings, toss them onto conveyor belts, and throw them down a chute to spend their final moments in a grinding machine while they are still alive.

The Hy-Line release also stated: “Other hatchery procedures are shown in the video. These procedures are supported and approved by the animal veterinary and scientific community. Instantaneous euthanasia by maceration is specifically supported by the American Veterinary Medical Association, Federation of Animal Science Societies, Agriculture Canada, World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and the European Union.”