A single case of Avian influenza found in a chicken on an Iowa egg-laying farm resulted in a mass slaughter of 5.3 million chickens. After what The Guardian described as a “gruesome killing,” farm workers were left to do the clean-up.
“Workers spent nearly a month pulling the dead poultry from the cages and dumping them in carts before they were piled high in nearby fields and buried in huge pits,” The Guardian reported. And when they were finished doing the repugnant chore, 250 workers were told they no longer had a job.
While plant management said the culling was necessary to preempt disease spread, the inhumane manner in which it was done has garnered severe criticism. The farm used a method that heats up the laying barns and cuts off the ventilation, simultaneously cooking and suffocating the birds to death, one animal rights activist told The Guardian.
A veterinarian medicine expert and adviser to the federal government on biosecurity at Iowa State University responded that this method was preferred since it’s “the most efficient means of containing the spread of bird flu because it is relatively swift.”