As part of its ongoing battle with Yum! Brands' (NYSE:YUM) KFC, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) released a video this morning that shows some revolting behavior at a West Virginia Pilgrim's Pride (NYSE:PPC) chicken processing plant named KFC "Supplier of the Year" in 1997.

The graphic scenes show workers heaving chickens against a wall, where they drop, fluttering, onto a filthy floor. Accompanied by a blasting production line audio tape that favors country tunes, Bon Jovi, and Guns 'n' Roses, the surviving birds are kicked or stomped. In one case, some workers jump on them with their entire body weight, splattering the camera lens.

Upon viewing this video, it would be tough to dismiss the cruelty of these acts, but even if you don't care a whit for chicken well-being, you will probably have a hard time convincing yourself that you want to see your food prepared this way.

And that could end up being a major public relations headache for both Yum! and Pilgrim's Pride. Next time I'm standing in front of a freezer full of chicken breast, I know I'll have a hard time not reaching for alternatives from Tyson Foods (NYSE:TSN) or Sanderson Farms (NASDAQ:SAFM). For their part, each firm has released statements denouncing the behavior. Yum! has threatened to sever its relationship with the supplier if the episode is repeated. But a deeper issue is broached by the conduct: the price of bored and frustrated employees.

According to a report in TheNew York Times, the undercover PETA worker who shot the video said the deeds were done when employees felt bored, frustrated, or overworked. At least one supervisor was alleged to have condoned the behavior, which included other cruel acts such as spitting tobacco juice into chickens' mouths (chewing tobacco on the line at a food processor?), suffocating chickens inside latex gloves, and tearing off heads to write graffiti in blood.

Pilgrim's Pride investors should hope that the company takes action not only to get rid of the offenders, but to make sure that employees have a bit more pride in their employer. Training? Raises? Do what it takes. It may cost something up front, but that will be cheap compared to losing Yum!'s or the public's trust.

Fool contributor Seth Jayson has no position in any firm mentioned. View his Fool profile here.