How Factory Farms Play Chicken with Antibiotics, And the inside story of one company confronting its role in creating dangerous superbugs.
BY TOM PHILPOTT; PHOTOGRAPHS BY TRISTAN SPINSKI
The massive metal double doors open and I'm hit with a whoosh of warm air. Inside the hatchery, enormous racks are stacked floor to ceiling with brown eggs. The racks shake every few seconds, jostling the eggs to simulate the conditions created by a hen hovering atop a nest. I can hear the distant sound of chirping, and Bruce Stewart-Brown, Perdue's vice president for food safety, leads me down a hall to another room. Here, the sound is deafening. Racks are roiling with thousands of adorable yellow chicks looking stunned amid the cracked ruins of their shells. Workers drop the babies into plastic pallets that go onto conveyor belts, where they are inspected for signs of deformity or sickness. The few culls are euthanized, and the birds left in each pallet are plopped on something like a flat colander and gently shaken, forcing their remaining shell debris to fall into a bin below. Now clean and fluffy, the chicks are ready to be stacked into trucks for delivery to nearby farms, where they'll be raised into America's favorite meat.