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Undercover investigation inside a Foster Farms hatchery

Baby birds crushed, drowned, and mutilated

Animal Equality exposed shocking violations of California’s animal cruelty laws at a Foster Farms chicken hatchery in Waterford, California. The facility sells newborn chicks to factory farms, which West Coast grocery stores, including Walmart, Costco, Kroger, Target, and Chick-fil-A, use.

At the hatchery, live chicks were mutilated by fast-moving machinery and then left for hours until they were dumped into a chute where they would be ground up alive.

Hours-old chicks were discovered with their bodies ripped open, exposing internal organs, and found caught or crushed by the mechanized processing equipment. Chicks that were trapped in dirty trays drowned in scalding water in the company’s washing machine.

Animal Equality is calling on local officials to file criminal charges.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, over 81 million chicks die at hatcheries yearly. Years of studies and research data show that chickens have extensive emotional and cognitive capabilities and experience positive and negative emotions, ranging from sadness to affection and admiration.

Chickens are sensitive to touch, and their skin contains numerous temperature, pressure, and pain receptors. That means that they can feel when they are sliced open or drowned in scalding hot water.

The industry considers their painful deaths the cost of doing business.

On the days I wanted to quit, I looked at the chicks and wondered, if I don’t stay and do this and tell the chicks’ story, who will?

Undercover investigator
Animal Equality

Seeking Justice

Animal Equality is urging the Stanislaus County District Attorney to file charges against Foster Farms for violations of the state penal code prohibiting cruelty to animals.

In a letter dated December 2, 2021, Animal Equality presented its findings to the offices of District Attorney Brigit Fladager and Sheriff Jeff Dirkse. The letter, which was accompanied by extensive undercover video footage, detailed how the company routinely subjects the baby chicks to needless suffering, injury, and death. It also demonstrates that chicks are left to languish without proper care and attention after injury.

Animal Equality asserts that the acts and practices documented at the Foster Farms hatchery constitute “cruelty to animals” and “failure to care for animals” under California Penal Code sections 597(b) and 597.1(a)(1), respectively. These laws prohibit a broad range of cruel conduct, but most relevant is the prohibition on torture, torment, mutilation, cruel killing, and any other act or omission that “subjects any animal to needless suffering.”

Foster Farms’ operation of its hatchery reflects a complete disregard for the lives of the individual chicks. Preventable death, injury, and suffering were the result and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible.

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Animal Equality is an international organization working with society, governments, and companies to end cruelty to farmed animals.

Our investigations are a fundamental pillar within our mission to create a world where all animals are protected and respected.