Farm Lobby Blocks Proposed California Ban on Killing Chickens Via Wood Chipper

In April, California’s farm lobby successfully blocked a bill that would have banned the killing of chickens in wood chippers.

The law, proposed by Assemblywoman Lori Saldana, was introduced after a 2003 incident in which workers at Ward Poultry Farm in San Diego County threw up to dumped up to 30,000 live chickens into wood chippers.

Ward Poultry Farm co-owner Bill Wilgenburg said the drastic measure was taken only after Newcastle disease broke out among chickens in southern California and the state quarantined the chickens in the area. Wilgenburg said he brought in the wood chippers after a veterinarian advised him to do so.

The San Diego County District Attorney examined the case but declined to prosecute, saying that the farm had not violated California’s animal cruelty laws because it did not act with malicious intent and followed the advice of a veterinarian.

The American Veterinary Medical Association, by the way, is adamantly opposed to the practice, saying in a press release,

“Use of wood chippers has not been endorsed by the AVMA as an acceptable means of euthanasia for poultry.” This statement is a response to an article in the San Diego Union-Tribune that reported employees at two area poultry farms used wood chippers to dispose of some 30,000 live hens in February. The article erroneously stated that the AVMA approves of the method.

“It is absolutely absurd and ludicrous to believe that any veterinary medical association, especially an association that has for more than 140 years been the leading voice for humane and proper care of animals, could or would advocate throwing live chickens into a wood chipper as an appropriate method of euthanasia,” said Dr. Bruce W. Little, AVMA executive vice president.

The full text of Assembly Bill 1587 which would make throwing live animals into a wood chipper illegal can be read here.


State farm lobby blocks bill to stop killing chickens via wood chippers. Michael Gardner, Copley News Service, April 21, 2005.

Wood chippers not to be used to euthanize poultry, AVMA says. Press Release, The American Veterinary Medical Association, June 3, 2003.

Leave a Reply