The U.S. Chicken Industry Must Stop Boiling Birds Alive


By David Coman-Hidy, One Green Planet

Sep 8, 2020


There were more than half a million chickens drowned alive in scalding water tanks last year, according to the USDA. That’s 1,400 birds boiled alive each and every day right here on our own soil. Why don’t more people know about this?


This torturous truth is a result of the cruel industry-standard practice of killing chickens for meat by live-shackle slaughter. Ending this outdated practice would bring the number of birds boiled alive down to zero, as it should be. There’s a good reason that Europe has been moving away from the practice. Reforming the system would also make conditions far less dangerous for workers who often end up covered in scratches, feces, blood, and pathogens.


The Humane League has launched a campaign against the US chicken industry with the mission of ending this practice, which is one of the greatest causes of suffering in slaughterhouses today.


Live-shackle slaughter


Live-shackle slaughter is the most common method of killing broiler chickens raised for meat, the industry standard for meat producers here in the US. The violent practice—unimaginably gruesome from beginning to end—begins with each bird being slammed upside down into metal shackles, frequently breaking their bones, and making it extremely difficult for them to breathe. The cruel, complex process is hard to stomach but that’s precisely why the industry has been able to keep it hidden for so long. But consumers deserve to know.


Upon reaching the electrical water bath meant to render them unconscious, many chickens will receive an ineffective stun or miss the stun entirely as they frantically try to escape the agony. This means that, as they continue on this already torturous journey, millions of chickens will then have their throats slit open by humans, while they’re still conscious and able to watch and feel the excruciating pain. This happens all while also hearing, seeing, and smelling the other birds being brutally killed around them.


The final step in this truly horrifying process is the scalding water tank, where chickens are submerged in a vat of boiling hot water meant to remove their feathers. But instead of this fate, there were half a million chickens drowned alive in the boiling water in 2019. This means that thousands of chickens are being boiled alive every single week in slaughterhouses here in the US. It’s a ghastly ending to a grim life full of abuse.


It’s not only the animals who are subjected to excruciating agony from this archaic system. Working in a slaughterhouse is one of the most dangerous jobs in the country. The workers on the slaughter lines of today are forced to perform these grueling tasks in unsafe, near-total darkness, aimed to help keep the birds more calm and quiet, unaware of what is happening to them until it does. The processing lines have grown faster and faster over time, now requiring workers to slaughter up to 175 chickens per minute in a typical factory farm in order to keep up with demand.



The birds, desperate and frightened, peck and scratch at workers, sometimes even defecating on them out of pure terror. Dust, mites, and feces fill the air and contaminate employees’ lungs, eyes, and cuts, putting them at a greater risk of disease and infection. Their hands can become deformed from the repetitive, exhausting labor that they perform for hours on end. Workers and animals alike need to see greater protections and an end to this cruel practice.


Better chicken commitment ...


more, including links