Birds comprise 98 percent of all land animals killed for food in the United States; approximately 280 chickens and 8 turkeys are slaughtered every second—a total of 9 billion birds each year. Yet, the federal humane slaughter law does not even cover birds, and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) does little to protect them.
The USDA only encourages the poultry industry to employ "good commercial practices"—defined as those practices that adhere to the industry's own minimal animal handling guidelines. The exception is that the USDA can take regulatory control actions—stopping or slowing the slaughter line and rejecting improper equipment—for birds drowning in a scalding tank. But even in those instances, the suffering of a single bird is not enough to induce action; multiple birds must be scalded to death before something is done.
The Animal Welfare Institute and Farm Sanctuary petitioned the USDA more than a year ago, urging the department to regulate the handling of birds at slaughter. The petition explains that USDA not only has the authority to regulate how birds are treated, it is legally obligated to do so to ensure wholesome poultry products.
What You Can Do:
Please contact the USDA Secretary and ask him to grant AWI and Farm Sanctuary's petition to ensure better regulation of bird handling at slaughter. You can send an email to Secretary Vilsack through AWI's Compassion Index by clicking here, where you will find language to include in your email.
You may also write to the Secretary at the following address:
US Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250
Be sure to share our "Dear Humanitarian" eAlert with family, friends and co-workers, and encourage them to write, too.
As always, thank you very much for your help!
Director, Farm Animal Program