Nine billion chickens, turkeys and other birds are slaughtered each year in the U.S. without the benefit of any federal law to aid in their protection.  Although birds comprise of 95% of all farm animals slaughtered for food in the U.S., they are not covered under the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (HMSA), which require an animal to be rendered insensible to pain before being slaughtered. 

The USDA arbitrarily interpreted the HMSA to exclude birds from its scope of protection, even though the language of the Act itself includes birds with the use of the term “other livestock.” 

Because of the USDA interpretation of the HMSA, each year billions of birds are shackled and hung upside down while fully conscious, electrically stunned into paralysis, cut with mechanical blades and drowned in tanks of scalding water while conscious. 

Not only is the arbitrary omission of birds from the scope of the HMSA cruel and illogical, but research has shown that inhumane slaughter methods can lead to increased fecal contamination of the carcass, thus exposing consumers to harmful bacteria such as E. Coli. 

For years animal activists have attempted to persuade the USDA to extend the basic protections provided for in the HMSA to birds; however, the USDA has continuously refused to do so.  In the response of its refusal, the Humane Society of the United States has filed suit against the USDA to force it to follow the plain language of the HMSA and include birds within its scope. 

Please contact USDA Secretary Mike Johanns and urge him to include ALL animals within the scope of the HMSA, as was intended by the legislators who passed the Act. 

Mike Johanns
Secretary of Agriculture
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20250
Phone: 202-720-3631

For more information on the HMSA, the suit filed by the HSUS and a sample letter to Secretary Johanns,

To read a Washington Post article regarding the suit,