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USDA report finds more than 317 chickens smothered at Postville meat, poultry producer

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)
Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 12:52 PM CST
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POSTVILLE, Iowa (KCRG) - PETA is asking the Allamakee County Attorney to investigate Agri Star Meat & Poultry in Postville after it says hundreds of chickens were smothered to death in two separate incidents last summer.

According to U.S. Department of Agriculture documents, 317 chickens were killed during a July 8, 2021 incident in which a worker continued dumping them onto a malfunctioning belt in a poultry kill room.

The USDA inspector reported that a large section of the belt had been stacked up to four birds deep, with most of the lower layer of birds having been smothered.

The inspector also said the belt operators continued to try to run the belt even after it was clearly not functioning. And because the dumper belt is operated by the same lever as the kill belt, more chickens were dumped on the belt even though it was not moving to create more space for more birds.

Despite the USDA Inspector’s recommendation that the workers be trained to handle the malfunctioning belts, a second, similar incident occurred on Aug. 12, 2021, resulting in more smothered chickens. The number of birds smothered in this second incident was redacted from the document.

PETA sent a letter to County Attorney Anthony Gericke calling for criminal cruelty-to-animals charges to be filed.

“If anyone smothered hundreds of dogs to death, they’d face multiple charges of cruelty to animals, and chickens suffer the same way and are also protected by law,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch.

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