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Footage stokes debate over treatment of baby chicks in hatcheries

01 March 2016

A video showing thousands of baby chicks treated inhumanely in a hatchery has drawn the ire of animal rights activists. 

The footage, in a plant in Catalonia, Spain, was the result of a two year investigation by Animal Equality, which concluded in August 2015. 

It shows workers pulling the heads from weak chicks and others being crushed along with other waste. 

Toni Shephard, Executive Director for Animal Equality, UK, said that those practices were not unique to that factory in Spain. 

“This is sadly common in the UK as well, it’s common to the entire meat industry,” she said. 

“These chicks are treated like products. When there’s such a high throughput, it’s difficult to treat these animals humanely.”

A spokesman for the British Egg Information Service, said there was a difference in practices between broiler hatcheries, which produce chicken meat, and hen hatcheries, which produce eggs.

“It’s a lot less mechanised,” the spokesman said. “We don’t masticate chicks for one. That’s a disgusting thing to do.

“If we need to dispose of chicks we use argon gas, which is a much more humane way.”

A spokesman for the British Poultry Council, which represents broiler hatcheries in the UK, was not immediately available to comment. 

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