29 April 2020

For Immediate Release

Contact: Karen Davis 757-678-7875; karen@upc-online.org

“Depopulation” of Poultry Does Not Mean “Humanely Killed”

United Poultry Concerns Urges Accurate Reporting on the Plight of These Birds

Machipongo, VA, April 29, 2020 /PRNewswire/ – A recent CNN article, 2 million chickens will be killed in Delaware and Maryland because of lack of employees at processing plants, states that the “depopulation” of 2 million chickens in Delaware and Maryland means they are being “humanely killed.”

“Depopulated” simply means that all the birds in the designated sheds are being intentionally killed on site, or are being trucked, dead or alive, to rendering plants, instead of being sent alive to a standard commercial slaughtering facility.

The poultry industry uses three main methods to destroy thousands and millions of birds at a time in response to a disease outbreak, a natural disaster, or, in this case, because there aren’t enough workers to slaughter and process the birds due to coronavirus-related worker shortages.

The three depopulation methods are ventilation shutdown, fire-fighting foam, and carbon dioxide poisoning. In the first case, the birds die slowly of heat stress and suffocation, by being deprived of air in the sheds with the temperature intentionally turned up. In the second case, they suffocate to death by being smothered under a rolling carpet of foam. In the third case, they suffocate painfully and slowly to death of carbon dioxide poisoning, administered to them through hoses with a force that can simultaneously burn and freeze their lungs.

Reports suggest that in the current case, the chickens are being mass-killed by ventilation shutdown. Delaware Public Media reported on April 16: “The recommended method for depopulating the flocks is closing off the ventilation in the chicken house . . . which causes the birds to die from hyperthermia.” In other words, the birds slowly bake and suffocate to death. See How to Kill Half a Million Chickens at Once.

It is possible that all three methods could be employed – whatever is most expedient to the industry in keeping with the 2015 U.S. Department of Agriculture policy guide, which states in part:

While CO2 and water-based foam will continue to be the primary methods first considered in a response, alternative methods will be immediately considered if these primary methods will not achieve depopulation of infected flocks . . . within 24 hours. Ventilation shutdown (VSD) is an adjunct method that will be considered by State and APHIS officials for depopulation of infected poultry based on the defined policy.

“Regardless of the method used, the suffering of the chickens is prolonged and intense,” says Karen Davis, President of United Poultry Concerns. “We look to the news media to report the birds’ suffering accurately through investigative reporting and fact checks that do not depend on industry reassurances that inhumane killing is ‘humane.’”

For more information, visit United Poultry Concerns at https://www.upc-online.org.