Feds Find 30,500 Birds Denied Water and Food on Trucks for 25 Hours at Costco Supplier; PETA Seeks Criminal Probe

For Immediate Release:
April 12, 2021

Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382

Fremont, Neb.

After obtaining U.S. Department of Agriculture reports revealing that approximately 30,500 chickens were held in severely crowded crates on trucks overnight without food or water at Lincoln Premium Poultry in Nebraska—which exclusively supplies Issaquah-based Costco stores—PETA sent a letter this morning to Dodge County Attorney Paul J. Vaughan requesting a criminal probe and applicable charges under Nebraska’s livestock neglect law. At least 1,622 of the birds were found dead the day after the incident.

The documents that PETA obtained reveal additional violations of federal law at Lincoln Premium Poultry. Federal staff saw a live chicken scalded and drowned and found the remains of others who had died the same way. Bleeding, crying chickens were found trapped by their wings between transport modules, and live chickens were found in barrels of dead birds—one of them was buried under about 10 carcasses. Last year, chickens were also found dead on trucks after being hauled through freezing rain and a “dramatic drop in temperature.”

“These reports reveal a horror show of birds dying of thirst, hunger, and exposure on trucks; drowning in scalding-hot water; and languishing under piles of bodies,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA urges anyone who still eats chickens to spare a thought for these birds who endured slow, terrifying deaths and go vegan.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Vaughan follows.

April 12, 2021

The Honorable Paul J. Vaughan

Dodge County Attorney

Dear Mr. Vaughan:

We respectfully request that your office (and the local law-enforcement agency, as you deem appropriate) investigate and file applicable criminal charges against Lincoln Premium Poultry and the workers responsible for denying approximately 30,500 chickens food and water for more than 24 hours—which killed at least 1,622 of them—in January 2020 at its slaughterhouse located at 1325 E. Cloverly Rd., near Fremont. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) documented the incident in the attached report, which PETA just obtained via a public records request.

According to the report, the chickens had been put into transport modules at approximately 4 a.m. on January 3, 2020. The company reportedly held the birds overnight—without food and water—on at least two trailers until it started to slaughter them 25 or more hours later. In the interim, more than 1,600 chickens died. An FSIS agent concluded that “the prolonged time being held … without access to food and water, in crowded conditions, led to the” birds’ deaths.

This conduct may violate Nebraska Revised Statute § 54-903. FSIS’ action shows that this neglect does not constitute the commonly accepted practices with respect to livestock that are otherwise exempt from prosecution. Importantly, FSIS action doesn’t preempt criminal liability under state law for slaughterhouses or their workers who perpetrate acts of cruelty to animals.

Please let us know how we may assist you. Thank you for your consideration and for the difficult work that you do.


Daniel Paden

Vice President of Evidence Analysis

Cruelty Investigations Department

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