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6 January 2015
Gassing “Spent” Hens to Death with Carbon Dioxide: Follow-Up to “The End of Hens”

In today’s previous post The End of Hens: Inside a “Spent Hen” Slaughterhouse, UPC wrote that ALL egg-laying hens are trucked to spent fowl slaughter plants. Not quite. In addition, millions of hens are now being gassed to death with carbon dioxide (CO2) at the farm site or somewhere.

CO2 is increasingly used to exterminate “spent” hens because it is cheap and readily available. Typically the CO2 is pumped into containers filled with smaller groups of birds to destroy them. The types of containers include metal boxes, barrels, sealed dumpsters, and Modified Atmosphere Killing carts. With CO2, the birds experience freezing temperatures and painful injury caused by the high pressure jet stream of burning cold gas.

In phone interviews with UPC president Karen Davis in 2011, John Dobbs, a former employee at Black Eagle Farm in Virginia, described the depopulation of the “cage-free” flock of egg-laying hens he witnessed in December 2009.

Carbon Dioxide Gassing Procedure:

  • Shut the lights off. Grab the hens by their legs off the perches and floor, take them out of the house and stuff them in metal boxes 2 ft. wide x 5ft. long x 3 ft. deep. Put 200-500 hens in each box. Four or five metal boxes in all.
    Stick a rubber hose attached to a CO2 tank inside the box and shoot cold CO2 into the box through the nozzle until the hens flop around. The birds on top burn and suffocate to death from the freezing CO2.
  • The birds on the bottom of the boxes won’t die. When the boxes were opened they ran around and employees whacked them with boards. One employee put a bird on the ground and another struck her with a board like he was hitting a baseball. Ralph Glatt [the owner of Black Eagle] said, “We gotta play baseball with these chickens?”
  • After this, if any hens were still alive, “you just pull their heads off. You’re not supposed to truck them if they’re still alive.”

For the whole story of Black Eagle, a typical “cage-free-organic” egg operation, see http://www.upc-online.org/pp/winter2011/black_eagle_revisited.html.

Big Dutchman facility
This is exactly what Black Eagle's organic hen unit looked like when UPC visited in 2011.

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