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Article  The US is normalizing the cruelest mass killing method to stop bird flu

C C Offline

INTRO: The 2022-2023 spread of bird flu has been the most catastrophic on record in the US. In less than two years, it’s hit hundreds of poultry factory farms across nearly every state in the country, costing the federal government $757 million and counting to manage, and the poultry industry more than $1 billion in lost revenue and other costs (experts also fear that the disease could spark an outbreak in humans). To help stamp out the disease’s spread, all of the more than 62 million chickens, turkeys, and other birds raised for meat and eggs on affected farms have been killed and disposed of, whether or not they actually had the virus, which can spread rapidly and has a very high mortality rate for poultry birds.

This fall, bird flu is surging again. So far in October and November, it’s infected dozens of factory farms largely in the Midwest, including on turkey farms raising animals for Thanksgiving season — resulting in the extermination of 4 million chickens and turkeys in just a month and a half.

I use the word “extermination” deliberately. Although many outlets have written that the birds on farms hit with bird flu are being “euthanized,” the reality of these mass killings is far from the painless end implied by that term.

Last year, I wrote a great deal about the rise of “ventilation shutdown plus” (VSD+), a method being used to mass kill poultry birds on factory farms by sealing off the airflow inside barns and pumping in extreme heat using industrial-scale heaters, so that the animals die of heatstroke over the course of hours. It is one of the worst forms of cruelty being inflicted on animals in the US food system — the equivalent of roasting animals to death — and it’s been used to kill tens of millions of poultry birds during the current avian flu outbreak.

As of this summer, the most recent period for which data is available, more than 49 million birds, or over 80 percent of the depopulated total, were killed in culls that used VSD+ either alone or in combination with other methods, according to an analysis of USDA data by Gwendolen Reyes-Illg, a veterinary adviser to the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), an animal advocacy nonprofit. These mass killings, or “depopulations,” in the industry’s jargon, are paid for with public dollars through a USDA program that compensates livestock farmers for their losses.

In America’s peer countries, ventilation shutdown has been effectively banned because it’s so inhumane; last year, Danish bioethicist Peter Sandøe told me he was “shocked” by the method’s prevalence in the US and that in the European Union, relying on it would be illegal.

Thousands of US veterinarians, animal welfare experts, and animal advocates have protested the use of ventilation shutdown. But a growing body of evidence obtained through public records requests shows that the poultry industry, in partnership with agricultural and veterinary authorities, is quietly normalizing ventilation shutdown and planning its further use — even though the USDA’s own policy says it can only be used as a last resort... (MORE - details)
Zinjanthropos Offline
During my years as a gas fitter I had the pleasure of entering many a poultry barn. To this day it’s still one of the smells I can remember and relive by just thinking about it. That was usually after the crop had been harvested, so an empty barn.

It gets very warm/hot in there, overhead space heating the main method. Forget exactly what temperature they regulated/monitored but it was in the +90°F range. Those heaters had to work so I would examine them before a new crop came in. I would have to wear rubber boots and step in a pool of disinfectant before entering bird area. Stopping the spread of disease since I could end up in as many as 3 barns in a day. Air intake louvres were controlled by zone temperature gauges. It’s a short life, never see the light of day until loaded on a truck bound for the abattoir.

Did I see mistreatment of birds? Well not directly but I have seen trucks loaded with the 10% allowance that didn’t survive the harvesting for one reason or another. Basically dead and dying birds that were left on the floor for disposal, once crop of good birds on their way to market. Some die or are wounded during the round up. I can tell you that they were placed in cages, couple times sitting in the hot Sun to be loaded on a truck. Some with their heads dangling out. Not a sight for animal lovers. They were going to die, some already dead and wounded, and I’m not really sure if they had any value to anybody at that point. Who knows maybe shipped them off to a rendering plant and they make soap out of them or whatever.

I was obviously witnessing what most people don’t see but I paid no mind to it, birds were doomed anyways. I like chicken so never hurt my appetite. We’re predators so no points for neatness, end result is to put it on the menu.
RainbowUnicorn Offline
if bird flu makes the jump to humans its going to be messy

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