Chickens are not covered under the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, which grants very minimal protections during the slaughter process for cattle, hogs and sheep.
At the slaughter plant, the poultry industry's norm is to hang the chickens upside-down in shackles by their legs. The shackled chickens are then stunned, which immobilizes them before they are killed with an automated knife. However, birds are often not properly stunned; an estimated 180 million birds are improperly stunned in slaughterhouses each year.
Slaughter treatment : Criteria key
minor standards to reduce stress and injury in the slaughterhouse; standards encourage a worker to check that all birds are properly stunned prior to slaughter but this is not a requirement.
standards to reduce stress and injury in the slaughterhouse. A worker is required to check that all birds are properly stunned prior to slaughter.
extensive standards to ensure birds are treated humanely in the slaughterhouse. Standards prohibit shackling. Standards encourage the use of controlled atmospheric killing (CAK) in which chickens remain in their crates and oxygen is slowly replaced by a gas that kills the chickens.
Slaughter treatment : How labels stack up against criteria
standards to minimize pain and stress when shackled and prior to stunning, shackling for no more than 90 seconds before stunning; birds must be checked when leaving the stunner to ensure they are adequate stunned