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Shocking Truth about Chicken and Turkey Slaughter

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Last month, World Poultry Net reported on recent research by the University of Bristol that examined meat quality problems caused by the electrified stun bath–the means of stunning most commonly used in chicken and turkey slaughterhouses in both the UK and Canada.

At the slaughterhouse, fully conscious birds are shackled upside down by their legs to a moving conveyor belt. The birds’ heads are then dragged through an electrified saltwater stun bath. Currents shoot through the birds’ skin, breasts, hearts, and leg muscles causing spasms and tremors.

The Bristol study sought to examine the effects of “pre-stun shocks,” which occur when birds are splashed with the electrified water before being submerged, or when the tips of their wings dip into the water. The study found that pre-stun shocks significantly affect meat quality by causing burns to the birds’ wing tips, fractures to their breast bones, and bleeding in their wings, shoulders, and breasts.

Additionally, the study determined that pre-stun shocks contribute to the incidence of “mis-stuns,” leading to live, conscious birds being dumped into the scalding-hot feather removal tanks where they are burned and drowned.

Dr. Ian Duncan, professor emeritus of applied ethology in the Department of Animal and Poultry Science at the University of Guelph, has stated that at least 1% of birds remain conscious when dropped into the scalding tanks. Dr. Dan Weary, associate dean of graduate studies and professor in the University of British Columbia’s Animal Welfare Program, arrived at the same number after witnessing a portable chicken slaughter unit in operation, which left 1% of the birds insufficiently electrocuted to bring about stunning.

Over 650 million chickens and turkeys were killed in Canadian slaughterhouses in 2012.This means an unbearable six and a half million birds were burned to death or drowned in scalding tanks in Canada last year alone.

Chickens and turkeys possess intelligence, individual personalities, and emotional lives just like dogs and cats. You can help bring an end to their needless suffering by transitioning to a healthy and humane, plant-based diet. For information on how to make the switch, visit ChooseVeg.ca.