Disasters like floods, roof collapses and fires are not uncommon occurrences on factory farms. And given the large numbers of animals confined on these operations, such emergencies can kill tens—even hundreds—of thousands of living beings in a matter of minutes. That’s what happened last October at a chick hatching facility near Mauzy, Virginia, when a fast-moving fire ignited by a malfunctioning heater claimed the lives of 37,200 chicks. “None of my peeps made it,” the owner, who raises chickens for poultry giant Pilgrim’s Pride, jokingly told reporters. His good spirits, perhaps attributable to insurance coverage, appeared to show scant regard for the immense pain and distress suffered by the birds under his care.
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