Wed. Apr 17th, 2024

BOSTON (WHDH) – Shocking and disturbing pictures you’ll see on just one station: live newborn chickens an insider tells 7 Investigates are being shipped across the country — arriving in Boston dead or in boxes that are crushed. Dave Puglisi has the story.

Dead baby chickens. Loose chicks. Smashed boxes. 7 Investigates is told this is how some young birds arrive at Logan Airport after being shipped by hatcheries.

“It takes my breath away,” an anonymous tipster said. 

The man, who works at Logan but doesn’t want to be identified, says he started documenting what he says are shocking and heartbreaking deliveries.  

A box labeled “live birds” is smashed under a larger box.

Boxes appear to have been tossed around.  

A box is filled with dead chicks.

“You never know what you’re gonna see when you open up the door. It’s almost like you gasp,” the tipster said.  

How can this happen?

The U.S. Postal Service allows day-old chickens to be shipped in ventilated boxes that are securely fastened.

But an animal expert says it doesn’t appear these birds were handled with care.

“They’re not being treated as the living animals that they are,” said Professor Kristen A. Stilt, faculty director of the Brooks McCormick, Jr., Animal Law and Policy Program at Harvard Law School. 

One hatchery co-owner tells 7 Investigates that while situations like this are disturbing, they’re rare.

“It’s not all systemic scale of like failures. Accidents happen at all times in everything, but we do expect a little bit higher treatment for a live animal,” said Thomas Watkins, president and co-owner of a hatchery. 

Watkins ships his baby chicks from Iowa to Massachusetts and works with the U.S. Postal Service to implement safe practices.

“It’s really hard because, at the end of the day, it’s someone who failed to do something properly,” Watkins said. 

We showed the pictures to the U.S. Postal Service.

A spokesperson said: claims for damaged shipments are investigated on a case-by-case basis.

“I want to see more oversight when it comes to the shipping of live animals,” the tipster said. “It would make me feel like I made a difference.”

Hatcheries tell us that a very low percentage of chickens shipped by plane arrive dead, and some die from natural causes.  But some animal welfare advocates say chickens shouldn’t be shipped at all. 

This story started with a tip. 

If you have a tip or story idea, email 

(Copyright (c) 2023 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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