Hung upside down in bone-breaking shackles, electrocuted, and slashed across the throat, nearly every single chicken raised for meat in the US endures horrific brutality in the agonizing moments before slaughter. And the worst is yet to come. At the final stage of the killing process, our food system lowers over 8 billion individual birds into scalding tanks each year—and hundreds of thousands of them are conscious for every second of it.Take action
In slaughterhouses across the country, live chickens are slammed into metal shackles—a process that often breaks their legs. Hanging upside down and struggling to breathe as their organs crush their lungs, these birds are dragged along a conveyor belt through an electrified stun bath before an automatic blade cuts their throats. After “bleeding out,” the birds’ bodies are submerged in scalding tanks to loosen their feathers. That’s the best case scenario for live-shackle slaughter—the industry standard for killing chickens.
For countless birds, it doesn’t end this way.
Chickens need only lift their head at the “wrong” time and they will miss the stun bath—doomed to be slaughtered while awake and sensitive to pain. Millions of birds who are poorly stunned have their throats cut while fully conscious. And if they pull back from the blade that’s meant to cut their throats, they will die, instead, in a scalding tank.
This archaic slaughter practice is sheer torture at every turn. As one Tyson employee observed, “The chickens scream, kick, and their eyeballs pop out of their heads.”
Live-shackle slaughter is supposed to kill chickens efficiently and effectively. But, too often, it goes wrong. Even food safety inspectors—employed by the US Department of Agriculture to monitor slaughterhouse practices—have recorded numerous instances of improper slaughter. An inspector evaluating a kill line in 2021 reported, “I observed a live bird enter the scalder. The bird was not stunned and had no signs of being bled. It was looking around, bright, and alert. The bird passed both head pullers and I observed the live bird go into the scald tank.” Because this chicken died by being boiled alive, this slaughterhouse failed to comply with the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act. Death by live-shackle slaughter is already brutal. Death by botched live-shackle slaughter is even worse—and it violates the law.
Meat industry giants like Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s Pride, and Sanderson Farms could end these abuses with a simple decision. And powerhouse retailers like Starbucks and Hello Fresh have the ability to eliminate live-shackle slaughter from their supply chains. Please tell these corporations to use their power to end live-shackle slaughter now.
Overhauling the chicken meat industry might sound like a big ask—but with your help we can make it happen. And change is already happening. Because compassionate consumers like you spoke out against this animal cruelty, over 220 companies have publicly committed to banning the practice of live-shackle slaughter by signing onto the Better Chicken Commitment—acknowledging that the bottom line is no longer justification for continuing this cruel and ineffective practice.
Following relentless pressure from The Humane League’s supporters, and our coalition partners, Tyson Foods announced plans to transition four of its facilities away from live-shackle slaughter.
That’s a big step. But with hundreds of industry facilities still live-shackling—breaking bones, slitting throats of conscious chickens, and boiling birds alive—it’s not enough.
Ending live-shackling would not only stop the worst abuses faced by chickens in slaughterhouses, it would also make conditions far less dangerous for workers who often end up covered in scratches, feces, blood, and pathogens.
For too long, the meat industry has put profits before people and animals, with devastating consequences. But now, pressure is mounting. If you agree that animals deserve better, please join thousands of caring people who are calling on the corporate giants to keep their promises and put an end to live-shackle slaughter. These companies must be held accountable for their promises— because when commitments go unfulfilled, they lose their meaning, deceive consumers, and harm animals.
What you've just seen here may be hard to stomach. No one deserves to suffer like this. Bones excruciatingly broken. Limbs dislocated. Throat slit while fully conscious. Boiled alive. Every final second of a chicken's life is heart-wrenching. It's pure pain, and unimaginable horror. It's time to stop this extreme cruelty. Please tell the chicken meat industry to end this abuse.
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