PETA representative protests at Sanderson Farms

Sanderson Farms held their annual stockholders meeting Thursday in Laurel, and they had an unexpected guest.

A representative of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals attended the meeting questioning the welfare of chickens. PETA claims the Sanderson Farms slaughtering process is inhumane. They wish the company to change its process and consider controlled atmosphere killing.

"When people find out the birds have their throats slit open while they're still conscious and go to defeathering tanks to be scalded alive while they're still conscious - they're upset," said Linsay Rajt, the representaive who appeared at the meeting. "It's important that companies update their slaughtering technique and switch to controlled atmosphere killing."

Sanderson Farms officials said controlled atmosphere killing is already part of their future plans when they feel the technology is improved.

"There are only two plants out of 140 in the United States that use controlled-atmosphere killing, basically it's suffocating the chicken," said Joe Sanderson, Chief Executive Officer at the company.

Sanderson Farms is the country's fourth largest poultry processor.