Last week, thousands of baby chicks were found dead inside a cargo warehouse at Miami airport. Trapped in metal baggage carts, the babies had been left in the oppressive Florida heat for “some time.” According to CNN meteorologists, the temperature that day was a blazing 90 degrees—and asphalt temperatures can rise 40 to 60 degrees hotter than the air.
After baking in the sun, the chicks were eventually found during a routine patrol by an airport employee. While the chicks’ original flight from Minneapolis-Saint Paul had arrived at 1:15 p.m., they were not discovered until four hours later. According to representatives from Abaco Big Bird Family Farm—the poultry farm where the babies were being shipped—only 1,300 of the 5,200 birds made it there alive. Erin Moffet, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, stated:
Birds had died as a result of excessive heat while awaiting transport to the Bahamas. The remaining live chicks made it to their final destination.
It may seem shocking that baby animals are being shipped in the mail like packages, but day-old chicks, ducklings, and other animals have been mailed to U.S. farmers for decades. And unsurprisingly, there are countless stories of them being smothered, crushed, lost, or subjected to extreme temperatures.
In 2020, Maine poultry farmer Pauline Henderson stated that all 800 of the chicks she had ordered had died en route. Although they arrived in the usual time frame, she believes the chicks had been mishandled during transit. She said:
We’ve never had a problem like this before. Usually they arrive every three weeks like clockwork. And out of 100 birds you may have one or two that die in shipping.
Her statement sheds light on the way the animal agriculture industry regards birds. While the deaths of thousands of chicks at a time is a massive tragedy, even accepting that “one or two” out of a hundred will die speaks to the way farmed animals are viewed as commodities instead of living beings.
Chickens are smart, sensitive animals who pass down knowledge from generation to generation. They are able to recognize more than 100 individual faces—including those of humans!—and can empathize with one another. Just as we would not send puppies or kittens through the mail, chicks and other baby farmed animals deserve better treatment.
You can help chickens by choosing delicious plant-based food. Check out the many tasty vegan chicken products, or discover egg-cellent recipes that don’t use eggs. You can also learn more about plant-based eating by visiting ChooseVeg for resources and information.