Feds Find Thousands of Birds Frozen to Death; PETA Calls For Cameras Throughout Lincoln Premium Poultry Operations

For Immediate Release:
January 19, 2023

Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382

Fremont, Neb.

Following a whistleblower tip, PETA has just obtained U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) records revealing that more than 2,000 chickens froze to death inside tractor-trailers carrying them to Lincoln Premium Poultry near Fremont in December—the latest in a string of transport-related horrors at the exclusive supplier to Costco. In response, the group fired off a letter today to the facility’s director of administration, Jessica Kolterman, calling on her to livestream video footage from all of the company’s contract haulers’ trucks and contract factory farms and from the slaughterhouse to help prevent additional egregious suffering.

On December 22 and 23, temperatures near Fremont dipped to 15 degrees below zero, with wind chills tumbling to minus 50 degrees. Despite this, chickens were hauled across Nebraska in tractor-trailers. On December 23 alone, a USDA supervisor determined that at least 2,070 chickens had died in “the extreme cold,” describing the birds as “rigid,” “frozen,” and with their “heads and necks cocked abnormally.”

“Chickens are sentient beings, not commodities, and they should never be exposed to excruciating subzero temperatures,” says PETA Vice President Daniel Paden. “PETA is calling on Lincoln Premium Poultry to livestream all its operations publicly and reminds everyone that the only humane meal is a vegan one.”

Previous USDA reports obtained by PETA reveal a pattern of horrific deaths at Lincoln Premium Poultry. Last summer, 1,000 chickens were “consumed” by “huge flames” and another 1,500 were injured and eventually killed after a tractor-trailer carrying them caught fire. In 2020, at least 1,622 birds were found dead after being held in severely crowded crates on trucks overnight without food or water.

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

PETA’s letter to Kolterman follows.

January 19, 2023

Jessica Kolterman

Director of Administration

Lincoln Premium Poultry

Dear Ms. Kolterman:

Given U.S. Department of Agriculture records that detail how thousands of chickens froze to death while being transported on December 22 and 23, 2022, to Lincoln Premium Poultry—and that your supervisors told a federal agent that the company’s gas stunning operations were malfunctioning, potentially causing the survivors pain—we ask that you immediately implement changes in the hope of reducing chicken suffering in your growers’ sheds, during transport, and at the slaughterhouse.

Underscoring the need for changes are the facts that 1,000 chickens were “consumed” by “huge flames”—and another 1,500 were injured and eventually killed—after a tractor trailer carrying them caught fire last June and that more than 30,000 chickens were crated without food or water in January 2020, killing at least 1,622 of the birds.

Will you please publicly livestream video from all areas of your operations where live chickens are handled? Your contract factory farmers, contract haulers, and slaughterhouse workers would take more seriously their duty to handle and transport animals lawfully if they knew caring people were watching. As the world’s foremost expert on livestock welfare, Dr. Temple Grandin, writes, “Plants [t]hat are doing a good job should show what they are doing.”

Your industry often complains that today’s consumers don’t understand how animals are raised and killed for food. You could help by enabling us to observe all your growers, transporters, and other workers handling millions of individual chickens—who value their lives as we value ours—in sheds, crating and hauling them on crowded trucks in all types of weather, attempting to stun them, slashing or sticking their throats, and bleeding them to death.

At the very least, will you report those drivers responsible for these latest cruel deaths to the Nebraska State Patrol for investigation for possible violations of the state’s Livestock Animal Welfare Act? Thanks for your consideration.


Daniel Paden

Vice President of Evidence Analysis

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