From February to March of 2014, a Mercy For Animals undercover investigator worked at Horizon Poultry — a Maple Leaf-owned hatchery in Hanover, Ontario. Our hidden camera captured horrific animal cruelty and neglect, including:

  • Chicks flung by their fragile wings and slammed into metal dividers
  • Live chicks sent through a scalding washing machine, burned, and drowned
  • Chicks overloaded and roughly crammed into macerators to be ground up alive


After reviewing the undercover footage, Dr. Sara Shields, a leading expert in chicken welfare, stated: "[I]n a commercial hatchery, there is very little consideration for the behavioral biology of the animals, the pain, stress and fear they may experience as they are conveyed through the equipment, and little regard for the occasional animal who is mauled by the machinery. Much better safeguards are needed to ensure that every chick is treated humanely."

Veterinarian Dr. Mary Richardson agreed, concluding: "Because there are huge numbers of birds being processed and speed is important, birds are given no more care than if they were widgets. The workers fling, throw and drop the birds without any regard for their welfare."


In nature, newly hatched chicks find warmth and comfort under their mother's wing. In hatcheries, their mothers are replaced with massive machines, fast-moving conveyor belts, harsh handling, and frightening noises. Young chicks are sorted, discarded, and treated like mere cogs in a machine.

Although cruelty and violence are standard practice for Canada's hatcheries, caring consumers can help end the needless suffering of chicks and other farmed animals by choosing a compassionate vegan diet.


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