The video shows the disturbing reality of how chickens used for food are raised. The footage is that of a North Carolina farm where chicks grow into chickens under abhorrent conditions. Their bellies are rubbed raw by sitting on layers of excrement that are hardly ever removed or cleaned. They are artificially fattened to the point that they cannot stand up for more than a few seconds at a time.
Craig Watts, a contracted chicken farmer who raises chickens for the brand Perdue, allowed an animal-rights group – Compassion in World Farming – to film all of it after watching Jim Perdue’s commercials in which the company’s chairman claims how "humanely" their chickens are raised.
“My jaw just dropped,” he said. “It couldn’t get any further from the truth.”
Perdue, however, tried turning the tables on Watts. "Perdue Farms has thoroughly reviewed the video posted by Compassion in World Farming, and we can assure you that the conditions shown in Craig Watt's poultry house do not reflect Perdue's standards for how our chickens are raised," Perdue spokeswoman Julie DeYoung said. "It is clear from the video that he is not following our guidelines and has been negligent in the care of his flock."
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Watts disagrees, saying he has followed all of Perdue's regulations ever since he first signed on to become a contract grower in 1991.
"Anything I do has to be blessed by them," said Watts. "Even the equipment, feeders, water that goes in my houses. I have to double check and make sure that it is an accepted brand."
So how does the government approve of poultry raised in such horrible condition?
“USDA is the accomplice of Perdue in the fooling of consumers,” says Leah Garces, American director of Compassion in World Farming, who calls it a marketing scam.
“Perdue’s methods for raising chickens are typical of industrial agriculture,” writes Nicholas Kristof in his New York Times article titled "Abusing Chickens We Eat."
“Torture a single chicken and you risk arrest. Abuse hundreds of thousands of chickens for their entire lives? That’s agribusiness,” he adds.