Disturbing Video Alleges Abuse at Tyson Foods Chicken Farms

May 29th 2016

Aron Macarow

An undercover video filmed largely at a Tyson Foods contract chicken farm in Lewisburg, Tenn., appears to show sick and deformed chickens suffering in crowded conditions, as well as birds being kicked and thrown by workers.

The animal welfare group Mercy for Animals released the footage as a part of an ongoing investigation into farming practices at facilities affiliated with the Arkansas-based international food processor, which sells products under familiar brand names like Jimmy Dean and Hillshire Farms. 

Warning: This video contains disturbing content.

Mercy for Animals said that the majority of the footage was obtained by an MFA investigator working undercover at the Lewisburg facility — which is affiliated with Tyson Food via a "contract farm" arrangement — between March 26 and May 10. The remaining video was obtained at other similar contract operations, including one in Dukedom, Tenn., from which Tyson has since cut ties after the farm was found to be illegally clubbing and stabbing chickens.

Contract farms, like those depicted in the video, are those that are provided with chickens, feed, technical advice, and pharmaceuticals by Tyson. Meanwhile, the farmer covers the cost of housing expenses and labor to care for the birds.

The company said that it has already fixed the problem.

Tyson responded to allegations against the Lewisburg farm by saying that the company is looking into claims of poorly treated birds:

It’s disturbing to us to see any sick or injured birds, which is why we have a track record of quickly addressing animal welfare concerns.

Our veterinarians and animal health experts are looking into these claims, which re-use old videos about matters we’ve already investigated and taken action on. If our investigation into this farm uncovers anything wrong, we will immediately address it.

Meanwhile, animal rights activists said that this is just business as usual.

Not only does Mercy for Animals suggest that animal abuses are still happening at Tyson Foods' contract farms — they also said that much of the treatment alleged in the film is perfectly legal.

"Unfortunately, the abuses and neglect we document in this new investigation in Lewisburg, Tenn. — including workers breaking the necks of animals and violently slamming animals into transport crates — are considered normal industry practices," Matt Rice, MFA's director of investigations, told The Huffington Post.

Rice added: "This isn’t a matter of Tyson failing to meet industry standards, it’s a matter of industry standards allowing for blatant animal abuse."

Related: You Won't Believe What This Factory Farm Does With Pig Waste