Zoe Rosenberg

Published on:

April 29, 2024

Ten Things You Need to Know About the Company Trying to Put Me in Prison

My findings show that “No Antibiotics Ever” just means that the chickens are still experiencing severe infection but they aren’t receiving the medication they desperately need. In one barn at a Petaluma Poultry factory farm in Santa Rosa, more than 10% of the chickens died by the time they reached 5 weeks. That is more than double the accepted industry mortality rate.

Petaluma Poultry, a chicken producer based in Sonoma County, is trying to put me in prison because I uncovered rampant misconduct at their facilities and rescued some of the chickens they abused. Here are ten things they don’t want you to know. 

ONE: Petaluma Poultry is Owned by Perdue

Petaluma Poultry markets itself as a small, local company. What they conveniently leave out of their advertisements is that they are owned by Perdue, the fourth largest poultry producer in the nation. To further separate themselves from the conglomerate, Petaluma Poultry markets their “products” to consumers under the brand names Rocky the Free Range Chicken and Rosie the Organic Chicken.

TWO: Petaluma Poultry is a Master of Manipulative Marketing

Using their brand names Rocky the Free Range Chicken and Rosie the Organic Chicken, Petaluma Poultry has painted a picture of their farms that is starkly different from the reality. They decorate their packaging with phrases like “humane” and distract consumers with happy cartoon chickens. They mislead the public about the nature of their chickens’ outdoor access, claiming they grow up free. In reality, if you look at the fine print, they admit that their chickens are housed indoors until they are four to five weeks old. They slaughter their chickens when they are between six and seven weeks old. But, it gets worse. Investigators with Direct Action Everywhere have never seen any evidence of their chickens being allowed outdoor access regardless of their age. Many of the outdoor access pens are dilapidated and overgrown grass indicates no animals have been enjoying the space. As you can imagine, if 12,000 chickens were provided access to an area, they would quickly demolish any vegetation. 

This is a real Petaluma Poultry advertisement from their Instagram:

This is a real Petaluma Poultry factory farm:

THREE: A Petaluma Poultry Facility Was Referred as a Suspect for Animal Cruelty 

In 2018, Sonoma County’s Animal Services referred a Petaluma Poultry factory farm to the Sheriff's Office as a suspect in an animal cruelty case. This was after Direct Action Everywhere animal rescuers attempted to save ten debilitated chickens at the facility who had been denied veterinary care. Law enforcement stopped rescuers from leaving the property and tore nine of the ten chickens out of people’s arms. One officer made the decision to let the “sickest chicken” go to get veterinary care. That chicken was Rose, who came to live with me at my animal sanctuary. She was sick with a disease called Reovirus that caused her leg to be infected and grow perpendicular to her body. 

Rose’s first time going outside after being rescued from Petaluma Poultry

When veterinarians at Animal Services examined living and deceased birds they took from activists, they were horrified by the conditions the animals were in and recommended McCoys Poultry as a suspect for criminal animal cruelty. McCoys Poultry has since stopped raising chickens. 

FOUR: Disease is Rampant at Petaluma Poultry

Perdue has a slogan of “No Antibiotics Ever.” They criticize their competitors, including Tyson, for raising their chickens in an unhealthy environment that forces them to use antibiotics. Perdue claims they raise their chickens better, so no antibiotics are needed. I’ve investigated a Tyson factory farm and Perdue facilities. They aren’t much different. My findings show that “No Antibiotics Ever” just means that the chickens are still experiencing severe infection but they aren’t receiving the medication they desperately need. In one barn at a Petaluma Poultry factory farm in Santa Rosa, more than 10% of the chickens died by the time they reached 5 weeks. That is more than double the accepted industry mortality rate. The following viruses and bacteria have been found at Petaluma Poultry’s facilities:

  • Campylobacter

The rate of Campylobacter bacteria at Petaluma Poultry’s Slaughterhouse is four times the national average. This bacteria is zoonotic and a common cause of food poisoning.

  • Clostridium perfringens

In conducting testing at a Petaluma Poultry factory farm, a deceased chicken was found to have been infected with clostridium perfringens. This is a concerning bacteria that is transmissible to humans. In chickens, it causes something called Necrotic Enteritis, which is when a chicken’s intestines begin to die. In humans, it can cause a similar condition called Clostridial Gas Gangrene.

  • Avian Coronavirus

Vincent, a baby rooster rescued from a Petaluma Poultry factory farm in Santa Rosa, tested positive for Avian Coronavirus. Avian Coronavirus, also known as Infectious Bronchitis Virus or IBV, is a highly contagious respiratory disease. It can cause high mortality rates in infected chickens.  While it is not currently transmissible to humans, we know that coronaviruses have the potential to mutate and become zoonotic.

  • Salmonella

The rate of Salmonella bacteria at Petaluma Poultry’s Slaughterhouse is about four times the state (California) average. It is well known that Salmonella is a common cause of food poisoning.

  • Marek’s Disease

Marek's Disease was found in a deceased chicken at a Petaluma Poultry factory farm. Marek's Disease is a common virus that is highly contagious and fatal. It can impact chickens neurologically, even making it difficult or impossible for birds to eat and drink without assistance. 

  • Infectious Bursal Disease

Petunia, a young hen saved from a Petaluma Poultry factory farm in Santa Rosa, tested positive for Infectious Bursal Disease, also known as IBD. IBD is a potentially fatal immunosuppressive disease. It is currently not transmissible between birds and mammals.

  • Enterococcus

One of the most concerning findings during the course of our investigation was a multidrug resistant strain of Enterococcus bacteria that was causing Vincent to be septic. Septicemia is an infection of the blood. Enterococcus is transmissible to humans and can cause sepsis, meningitis, and endocarditis. It is a miracle Vincent survived his infection. 

FIVE: Petaluma Poultry’s Chickens are Infested with Parasites 

Fecal tests from chickens at multiple Petaluma Poultry facilities have found coccidia parasites are rampant. Coccidia parasites are microscopic parasites that can live in animals’ intestinal tracts. Coccidia can cause bloody diarrhea and even death. 

SIX: Perdue Exploits Humans, Too

Perdue recently settled a lawsuit for severely underpaying their contract farmers. They’ve also faced a federal inquiry regarding the use of child labor.

SEVEN: Chickens are Boiled Alive at Petaluma Poultry’s Slaughterhouse

A whistleblower at Petaluma Poultry’s Slaughterhouse uncovered evidence that chickens are sometimes boiled alive during the slaughter process. When chickens are boiled alive, their skin turns bright red, as pictured here. 

The slaughter process is rapid. Chickens are hung upside down in shackles and the line is first supposed to dunk chickens into an electric stun bath, but if the chickens maneuver themselves away from the bath, they can miss it. When chickens miss the electric stun bath, they enter the kill floor fully conscious. On the kill floor, chickens are expected to be “stunned” and their limp necks are supposed to glide over the blade. Unstunned chickens are completely aware of their surroundings and they are able to lift their heads to avoid the blade. There is an employee on the kill floor who is supposed to manually slit those chickens’ throats, but because of the line’s speed, chickens are often missed. Those chickens get sent into the scalding bath alive.

EIGHT: The Petaluma Poultry Slaughterhouse Kills Almost 50,000 Chickens Per Day

The Petaluma Poultry Slaughterhouse operates five nights a week. On each of those nights, they kill nearly 50,000 individual chickens. It is difficult to understand what that looks like, what it means to take that many lives. To rephrase it, someone is killed 50,000 times every single day. Everyday, 50,000 individuals scream out in terror as they struggle to resist their fates. They flap their wings and kick their legs, but eventually they all grow still in death, never again to walk this Earth.

NINE: Last June, For the First Time Ever, Chickens Made it Out of the Slaughterhouse Alive

For the past 50 years, entering through the gates of the Petaluma Poultry Slaughterhouse has meant certain death. Millions of chickens have entered through the slaughterhouse gates afraid, hoping that maybe they might somehow survive. But night after night, no one has come out alive. Chickens have left the slaughterhouse only once dismembered and wrapped in plastic. This past June, for the first time in all the years this slaughterhouse has operated, chickens entered through its gates and came back out alive. I personally rescued four chickens, Poppy, Aster, Ivy, and Azalea. They were covered in scratches and infested with Coccidia parasites. Some of them had infected feet and Poppy had an injured toe. I got them veterinary care and made sure they could spend the remainder of their lives safe, happy, and free.

Poppy being examined after being rescued from Petaluma Poultry’s slaughterhouse

TEN: Petaluma Poultry is Charging Me With Felonies & I Need Your Help

For rescuing Poppy, Aster, Ivy, and Azalea, I am facing four felonies, three misdemeanors, and the possibility of over thirteen years in prison. I have been forced to wear a GPS ankle monitor since December because they don’t want me to rescue more birds. My preliminary hearing is this Friday and the prosecution will be presenting evidence to prove my charges should proceed. The truth is, I need your help. I need your help to get justice, but not for myself. I want justice for Poppy, who on an early morning last June sat shivering in a transport crate, crowded together with her brothers and sisters like cargo. She longed for warmth, freedom, and to just stop hurting all the time. I want justice for Petunia, who was stuck on her back on a Petaluma Poultry factory farm, crying out in pain with a raging fever and a wing covered in blood. I want justice for Rose, who permanently lost her ability to walk because she was so severely neglected by this company. And most of all, I want justice for all of the chickens who haven’t been rescued, who are either suffering at this very moment or who have already lost their lives at the hands of Perdue.

This criminal case is not about me. I am merely a body and a voice, a representative for the chickens who have been so wronged by Petaluma Poultry and cannot speak for themselves in the court of law. You, too, are a body and a voice, and you, too can be a representative. If you can, come to my preliminary hearing this Friday at 10 am in Santa Rosa. Protest Safeway and other companies that sell the bodies of Petaluma Poultry’s tortured chickens. Take action online by joining our virtual action team chat on the free messaging app Signal. Do anything and everything you can. The animals need us, and they need us now.