A member of animal welfare group Compassion over Killing went undercover at Atlantic Farm in Virginia and shot footage of abuse against the birds.
Graphic footage showed workers violently slamming or throwing live birds; another worker impaling live chicks with a metal nail at the end of a pipe; employees killing sick or injured birds by brutally bludgeoning or stepping on them; birds run over and crushed by forklifts; sick or injured birds piled on top of each other in buckets, with dead birds, and left to die and birds unable to walk because of painful leg injuries or deformities.
Compassion Over Killing has submitted its footage to the authorities.
Tyson has terminated its contract with the farm in response to the graphic footage.
Doug Ramsey, group president of poultry for Tyson Foods, said: “We’re outraged by what’s shown in this video. The actions of these people are egregious, inexcusable and will not be tolerated by Tyson Foods."
“It’s our responsibility to ensure that everyone who works for and raises animals for our company treats animals properly. Within an hour of seeing this video, we confirmed the location and owner of the farm. We are terminating the contract with the farmer who allowed these actions to take place and are removing any of our birds from his care. As of 5 December, 10 employees of the contract catching crew shown in the video have been fired from their jobs,” added Ramsey.
Justin Whitmore, chief sustainability officer and executive vice president of corporate strategy for Tyson Foods, added:
“The people in this video were trained in proper animal handling, yet chose to ignore their training. They failed to alert management about the treatment on this farm and utterly failed to uphold a simple Tyson Foods core value of treating animals in their care humanely. A non-negotiable condition of employment or any contract agreement with Tyson Foods is a dedication to treating animals properly.
“Despite these bad actors and their shameful actions, the management of Tyson Foods continues to be dedicated to proper animal handling and cultivating our culture to ensure that animals are treated properly.”
As well as terminating the farmer’s contract, Tyson Foods will conduct a video conference where senior poultry management will stress its commitment to proper animal handling. The business is to immediately meet with everyone in its chicken operations who handle live birds to stress that every individual who works for the company is responsible for proper animal handling.
The company added that it has animal wellbeing audit and training programmes in place, including nearly 60 full-time dedicated animal well-being specialists across our beef, pork and poultry operations and that it is “firmly committed to ensuring that animal well-being policies are followed with a zero tolerance for anyone who does not comply”.