It took only 45 minutes for temperatures inside a crowded Johnston County, North Carolina, barn to skyrocket when the barn lost power, killing 50,000 chickens. On one Kansas farm, nearly 4,500 turkeys died in one weekend during a scorching 100-degree heat wave. Birds in barns that aren’t air conditioned sometimes die when they crowd together at doorways in the vain hope of catching a breeze.
As heartbreaking as these animals’ deaths are, the fates they faced otherwise were arguably worse. After being confined by the tens of thousands to filthy, windowless sheds, the birds would have been thrown into crates and loaded onto trucks bound for the slaughterhouse. There, they would have been hung upside down with their delicate legs forced into shackles (which often causes broken bones), their throats would have been slit, and if they had dodged the blade, they would have been scalded to death in a defeathering tank.
Written by Michelle Kretzer