What the Investigator Saw
Eyewitness Testimony From PETA’s 2004 Investigation Into Agriprocessors, Inc., Kosher Slaughterhouse
PETA’s investigator witnessed egregiously cruel slaughter methods being used at an Agriprocessors kosher slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa. Cattle, lambs, chickens, and turkeys suffered through prolonged consciousness after having their throats cut and being dismembered while still fully conscious. Many instances of inhumane slaughter were captured on film. The following are excerpts from the investigator’s notes:
- The cow was loaded into a machine that resembles a large metal tube. His head stuck out of the front, then a metal bar clamped under his neck and forced his head upwards and back, cocked in an awkward and painful-looking position. The entire machine rotated, turning the cow upside-down. This process seemed to terrify him—his eyes were wide with fright—I imagine because he had never been in such a helpless position. The cow’s exposed neck was scrubbed with a hose and brush, then a rabbi came out of a small room and slit the cow’s throat. Another worker followed the rabbi and gouged a chunk of flesh out of the cow’s neck and then pulled his trachea or esophagus (I’m not sure which one) outside of his throat so that it hung down. Then the machine reverted the cow into an upright position. The trap door on the side opened up, and the cow was dumped onto the floor, where another worker attached a chain to the animal’s ankle so that he could be hoisted into the air and sent down the line.
- Many cows were still alive and conscious when they came out of the tube and were slammed onto the floor. Their heads often hit the concrete with a sickening crack. I watched as one cow landed on his feet and started scrambling around with a shocked look on his face. The workers simply jumped behind their barricade and waited for him to collapse.
- A cow stood up after being dumped on the floor and went into the corner. They managed to kill one or two more cows while he lay there moving around trying to stand up. He continually moved his nearly severed head around as his legs were also making an effort to stand.
- Some birds fell after being placed into buckets—these birds flopped around on the ground violently, and once stopped, they were thrown into the garbage.
- I took footage of chickens in trailers where the vents/fans were not running. It’s August 11 and really hot. I also took footage of the dumping of chickens onto the conveyor system to be killed. I noticed that one chicken had her foot caught between the conveyor and the wall, and she was unable to pull her foot out.
- The auger broke today. That’s the machinery that brings the inedible parts out to the trailer to be dumped. The inedible matter went all over the basement. The maintenance man told me that the inedible matter was sent to be used in pet food and cosmetics.
- The USDA inspector, Chad, told me that there is another kosher plant in Waterloo. They use a different method, one recommended by Temple Grandin, where the cows are lowered onto their stomachs instead of being turned upside-down in this horrible machine.
- I filmed another chicken who was caught in the conveyor system of the poultry line. This time, the chicken’s head and wing were caught between the retaining wall and the conveyor. I did my best to free her, but access to the conveyor itself was blocked.
- The first time I saw a cow stagger to his feet and walk around with his trachea dangling outside of his body, I thought to myself, this can’t be happening—but after several days I knew better.
- The suffering and cruelty I witnessed didn’t [faze] anyone on that killing floor.
- I just wish that people who eat meat could stand where I did for a day and see cows whose eyes are wide with fright have their throats slit and tracheas gouged out.
- There is no justification for the cruelty I documented in that slaughterhouse. The presence of the USDA didn’t have any effect, nor did the presence of the rabbis. These animals were failed by both religion and regulations.