Birds at Major Chicken Supplier Viciously Kicked and Thrown

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Breaking investigation footage of multiple Pilgrim’s contract farms shows six-week-old chickens being viciously kicked and thrown. The footage was captured in Kentucky—the same state where new ag-gag legislation is currently being considered. 

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Pilgrim’s is the second-largest poultry company in the United States, raising and killing around three billion chickens a year and supplying large restaurant chains, including KFC and Popeyes. Our undercover investigator documented the harrowing process of chicken catching, as Pilgrim’s hired workers chase birds and force them into transport cages.


Pilgrim’s pays these workers according to the number of chickens caught—not hours worked. This likely incentivizes workers to catch chickens very quickly, resulting in improper handling and cruelty. 

Footage shows birds kicked and thrown against the barns’ metal walls. Many are picked up by their legs, necks, or wings and roughly thrown several feet through the air into transport cages. 

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Pilgrim’s workers are also seen mishandling chickens for no work-related purpose, such as carrying them outside the barn and placing them into the driver’s seat of a forklift. In one clip, a worker holds two chickens by their necks, one in each hand, and slams them against the barn wall. The worker then moves their heads as though the chickens are pecking each other. 


Chickens, many injured, stuffed inside crates and unable to move at a Pilgrim's Pride chicken supplier.Chickens, many injured, stuffed inside crates and unable to move at a Pilgrim's Pride chicken supplier.

Footage shows workers routinely carrying seven chickens at a time and swinging them with enough momentum to toss all seven into transport cages at once. In many instances, the cage doors are slammed shut, trapping the heads, wings, and legs of chickens in the narrow gaps between the doors and cage frames. Injured chickens are forced to sit in these crates, suffering from untreated broken bones, smashed against other birds in similar conditions. 

Our investigator documented transport cages with 15 compartments. Workers were supposed to put 21 chickens into each compartment, yet workers would intentionally stuff in more birds. This often happened while loading the last cage of a barn so workers wouldn’t need an additional cage to finish catching the last chickens. 

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Dead or dying chicken unable to stand or walk at Pilgrim's Pride chicken supplier during undercover investigationDead or dying chicken unable to stand or walk at Pilgrim's Pride chicken supplier during undercover investigation

What makes this footage especially egregious is that Pilgrim’s regularly uses Frankenchickens—chickens raised for meat selectively bred to grow monstrously large unnaturally fast. Forced into lives of misery, these birds grow so quickly that their bodies often can’t support their weight. Many suffer organ failure and heart attacks, and some die before they even make it to the slaughterhouse. They are also extremely fragile, so being kicked and thrown can have disastrous impacts. Many are likely injured and in pain before they are thrust into transport cages. 

Take Action – Ag-Gag

This is just the latest in a line of investigations that have uncovered horrific mistreatment of Pilgrim’s chickens. Despite this, Kentucky’s ag-gag legislation seeks to keep the public in the dark about where their food comes from and threatens First Amendment rights.

Ag-gag laws, no matter their form, help ensure that a company like Pilgrim’s can overlook cruelty with impunity, which is unacceptable. Kentucky’s SB 16 is a dangerous bill blatantly designed as a threat to animals, workers, consumers, and First Amendment rights. If passed, the bill would criminalize capturing and sharing with the public what happens in factory farms and food-processing facilities. Without strong government oversight at factory farms, whistleblowing is an important safeguard against cruel and unsanitary practices. 

Visit to keep informed about how to speak out against ag-gag bills around the United States and Canada. 

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