Tyson Foods accused of abuse at Delaware poultry farm

DAGSBORO, Del. (WPVI) -- A hidden-camera video allegedly shot at a Delaware poultry farm that supplies Tyson Foods claims to show chickens being subjected to extreme cruelty and abuse.

The nonprofit Mercy for Animals says it shot the video at McGinnis Farms in Dagsboro.

It says chickens were bred to grow so fast, they were crippled under their own weight and often suffered heart attacks and organ failure.

They also say birds were too tightly crammed and forced to live in their own toxic waste.

Matt Rice, Director of Investigations with Mercy for Animals, explained other alleged acts of abuse, saying the video "documented workers violently clubbing animals to death, breaking their necks, and often leaving sick or injured animals to slowly suffer and die."

Tyson Foods says animal well-being is a top priority, it will not tolerate abuse, and takes claims like this very seriously. It also says its policies help protect its animals.

In a video response, Tyson Farms Vice President of Animal Well-Being Programs and Technology Dr. Christine Daugherty says: "This includes the Tyson Farm check program. This program involves third party auditors who go on the farm to check for things such as animal access to food and water, our human animal interaction, and worker training."

In a response to Action News, a Tyson spokesman gave us a statement:

Our farmers work hard to raise healthy birds, however, sometimes chickens - just like people - get sick. At the time this video was shot this past spring, this farm had birds that were sick with a respiratory illness. As a result, what was shown in the video is not typical for this or any other farm. It was also not a food safety issue.

It is important to note that no federal laws protect chickens on factory farms, and most states specifically exclude chickens from anti-cruelty protection.

But Tyson also says it's always researching new ways to keep its animals healthy and safe.

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