Chicks Ground up Alive at Egg Hatchery

In this undated image made from video and provided Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2009 by Mercy for Animals,... Expand In this undated image made from video and provided Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2009 by Mercy for Animals, chicks are coralled at Hy-Line North Americas hatchery in Spencer, Iowa. An animal rights group is calling on the nations largest grocery story chains to post warnings on egg cartons that unwanted male chicks are ground up alive, after videotaping the common industry practice at an Iowa egg hatchery. (AP Photo/Mercy for Animals) Collapse (AP)

(AP Photo/Mercy for Animals) Collapse (AP)

An animal rights group publicized a video Tuesday showing unwanted chicks being tossed alive into a grinder at an Iowa plant and accused egg hatcheries of being “perhaps the cruelest industry” in the world.

The undercover video was shot by Chicago-based Mercy for Animals at a hatchery in Spencer, Iowa, over a two-week period in May and June. The video was first obtained Monday by The Associated Press.

“We have to ask ourselves if these were puppies and kittens being dropped into grinders, would we find that acceptable?” asked Nathan Runkle, the group’s executive director, at a news conference in Des Moines. “I don’t think that most people would.”

The group said that tossing male chicks, which have little value because they can’t lay eggs or be raised quickly enough to be raised profitably for meat, into grinders is common industry practice. United Egg Producers, a trade group for U.S. egg farmers, confirmed that.

The hatchery is owned by West Des Moines-based Hy-Line North America and is one of many operations in Iowa, the nation’s leading egg producer.

The video, shot with a hidden camera and microphone by a Mercy for Animals employee who got a job at the plant, shows a Hy-Line worker sorting through a conveyor belt of chirping chicks, flipping some of them into a chute like a poker dealer flips cards.

Mercy for Animals video: http://www.mercyforanimals.org/hatchery

Hy-Line International: http://www.hyline.com/

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