lft investigates

Animals Languishing in Filth at Cruel U.S. Live Markets

A Lady Freethinker (LFT) investigation into live animal markets in New York and New Jersey reveals chickens, rabbits, cows, and others are suffering in feces-encrusted cages and enclosures waiting to be killed.

Live markets are filthy slaughterhouses where customers choose live animals, like rabbits and birds, to be butchered on site. LFT’s investigator visited 17 of these horrid facilities and found widespread cruelty and unsanitary conditions at every single one, including:

  • Dead animals in cages with live ones, who – with nowhere else to go – were forced to step or lie on the lifeless bodies
  • Employees yanking chickens out of cages by their feet or sensitive wings, tying their legs together, and hanging them upside down to be weighed
  • Animals with minimal, dirty food and water
  • Floors, walls, cages, and enclosures covered with blood, excrement, and other bodily fluids

Here are more of the cruel conditions our investigator uncovered: 


Sick and Stressed Animals in Filth

LFT’s investigator saw many animals who appeared sick, like chickens, ducks, and rabbits, packed into tiny, filthy cages, with hardly any room to move. Birds were often missing most of their feathers, and frequently any feathers they did have were covered in fecal matter. 

birds missing feathers
Goats, cows, sheep, and lambs were crammed into small, filthy enclosures, often surrounded by feces-smeared walls. Animals often stood on concrete or were forced to lie down in their own waste. Many appeared ill, with our investigator making note of lambs who were coughing and sneezing, and a goat who was coughing heavily.


Live Birds in Cages with Their Dead Companions

Live birds were forced to share space with their dead friends, including at ZemZem Halal Live Poultry & Livestock in Paterson, New Jersey, where our investigator witnessed a dead chicken with her head hanging out of the bars while other chickens – with nowhere else to turn – trampled her lifeless body. At Flushing Live Poultry in Queens, New York, a water duck perched on his dead cage mate. 

dead bird

Hauled to Their Death

Our investigator witnessed animals being forcefully yanked out of cages, including birds who were pulled out by their legs or sensitive wings, had their legs tied together, and were hung upside down and weighed.  Most screamed out and attempted to flap their wings to get away. Rabbits were scruffed by the neck and hauled to the slaughter room to be killed.

chicken hung upside down

At American Halal Meats, one cow was hung upside down and thrashed her legs as blood spewed everywhere. Her head had been cut off and hung next to her bloody body.

cow live market


Live Markets Could Breed the Next Pandemic

Cramming sick and stressed animals into small cages covered in excrement and blood is not only cruel, but it’s a public health catastrophe waiting to happen. They’ve been the source of disease outbreaks in the past, including severe acute respiratory syndrome, influenza, and COVID-19 – which has infected more than 97 million people and killed more than a million in the United States alone as of November 2022.

Stacking cages of animals on top of each other makes it easy for excrement, blood, and other bodily fluids to fall from the top and soak the floor and animals at the bottom. These filthy conditions allow disease to spread from animal to animal, and to humans who encounter them.

cages of animals

Food safety inspections also reveal the dangers of these markets. Astoria Live Poultry was previously cited by the USDA for a dumpster in front of the establishment leaking an unknown liquid onto the sidewalk, and an inspection of Island Live Poultry notes that cages were being washed outside. 

Many markets are located just blocks away from homes, schools, and restaurants, making it likely that blood, excrement, and other fluids will be picked up by shoes and spread into other areas, including homes and businesses. 



The Suffering MUST End

As long as live markets are open ANYWHERE in the world, animals will continue to suffer and die painfully and public health will remain at risk.

Help today by signing our petition urging authorities in New York and New Jersey to immediately shut down and ban live animal markets across the states – and share this information with your friends and family.




Histories of Violations

LFT recently uncovered more suffering and filth at New York live markets through public records requests, including feathers and feces piled on sidewalks, wastewater backing up into live bird cages, and dead birds housed with live ones.

At Astoria Live Poultry, which LFT investigated, inspectors noted live birds on the loose, trash and debris piled on the floor, and a dumpster repeatedly “leaking an unknown liquid” onto the sidewalk.

Inspectors noted live roaches and accumulated grime across food contact surfaces at Halal Live Poultry, another facility that was investigated by LFT. State inspectors also documented birds living above catch pans with accumulated, encrusted filth and feces.

You can read the full report here.


And remember – you can help animals who are needlessly and violently killed for food every day by always choosing kind plant-based options that don’t cause them to suffer and die.

More photos from LFT’s investigation below:

bigs hanging by legs
chicken slaughter room
chickens in cages
live market
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