May 5, 2020
Iran's poultry farmers bury thousands of chicks alive
Chicken farmers in Iran have buried thousands of baby chicks alive, as shown in grisly videos posted online in mid-April, reported France 24 Observers.
While the videos led to a massive outcry, one farmer told the France 24 Observers why the economic crisis caused by COVID-19 left many of his fellow farmers with no choice.
Thousands of chicks became the latest collateral damage of the COVID-19 epidemic that is sweeping Iran. At least 6,277 people in Iran have died of the virus and 98,647 have fallen ill, according to official statistics announced May 4. However, many medical staff working in Iran, as well as international NGOs, have cast doubt on these numbers, claiming that they are in reality much higher.
A dozen or so upsetting videos posted online show farmers tossing newborn chicks into plastic sacks. Most of the baby animals seem to be alive, judging from their peeping. People across Iran reacted in horror to these videos and the methods used by the farmers.
"They are killing these chicks to increase the market price and to get more money," wrote one Twitter user. "There is nothing more vile than human beings."
No official estimate of the number of chicks killed over the last week in Iran has been released, however, the Iranian Association of Poultry Farmers reacted to the scandal on April 18 by banning farmers from killing poultry for economic reasons.
However, the France 24 Observers spoke to one poultry farmer who said that he and his fellow farmers were faced with a stark choice—either fire their workers and temporarily close their farms or cull some of their flock.
According to the Statistical Centre for Iran, the average market price for chickens in January, just before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, was IRR12,800 per kilo, or EUR0.77. By April, the price had fallen to IRR9,500, equivalent to EUR0.57, a decrease of nearly 25%.