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Backlash for PA Hatchery as Video Reveals Fate of Some Newborn Chicks

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PHOTO: Animal protection group says newborn chicks are being mistreated at a Pennsylvania hatchery. Photo credit: Compassion Over Killing
PHOTO: Animal protection group says newborn chicks are being mistreated at a Pennsylvania hatchery. Photo credit: Compassion Over Killing
October 23, 2013

FREDERICKSBURG, Pa. - A central Pennsylvania chicken hatchery is receiving national attention after a video surfaced showing the fate of some newborn chicks at the facility.

The video from Bell and Evans in the Lebanon County town of Fredericksburg was shot by a person working there who is also a member of the animal advocacy group Compassion Over Killing.

"We're talking about birds who are just hours old, who are sick, injured or otherwise deemed unfit for processing, are dumped in a grinder while still fully conscious," said Erica Meier, executive director of the group. "So, they're ground up while still alive."

On its website, Bell and Evans says all of its chickens are humanely raised, and that baby chicks are "carefully sorted from their shells and placed in delivery baskets headed for the farm."

Meier said the video demonstrates a different picture, pulling back the curtain on how the chicken industry routinely operates.

"I think it's really important for consumers to recognize that, no matter how these products may be marketed to consumers, animal cruelty is standard practice," she said.

She said she believes animal protection laws fall short when those animals are intended for use as food.

"What's happening on this farm is not subject to the same cruelty laws," she said. "If these are dogs and cats, it would result in criminal prosecution, but because these animals are being raised for food, the state law exempts what's happening inside these facilities."

Tom Joseph/Dallas Heltzell, Public News Service - PA