<$BlogRSDUrl$> The Cyberactivist

Behind the scenes of the fight for the protection of animals and workers and the preservation of the environment - my experiences as a Tyson slaughterhouse hanger/killer turned activist. Exposing the evils of factory farming, by Virgil Butler. If you have arrived here looking for the Tyson stories, view the early archives. Some of them are now featured on the sidebar for easy searching.

Friday, October 24, 2003


I am sorry for not posting yesterday, but this
past week has been so busy for me. I have
been working on several projects that have
forced me to neglect the blog a bit. I will talk
more about what has been going on soon
after it is all put together. Now, back to
business with the blog.

I happened to be driving down past the plant
this week and could tell that they were broke
down, or at least having problems there. I
saw a load of chickens sitting there on the
truck in the parking lot that had been there
for hours. That got me to thinking about all
the different times we had breakdowns when
I worked there, and what kind of problems
arise from this happening, especially for the
chickens that are stuck wherever they are
when that line stops.

They are in limbo until it starts again. The only
way to get them off the trucks is to dump them
on the belt and run them through back dock.
That is the only way to get the trucks unloaded
because that is where the equipment is. The
birds stuck on the truck in the cages will sit out
in the parking lot on the truck in whatever
weather, however long that is. This could be
for hours or even days on rare occasions.
They throw lime on them if they sit out there
too long to keep them from stinking so bad.
(Of course, lime burns like hell and made our
noses bleed. Some workers even got chemical
burns in their respiratory system and one got
chemical pneumonia from lime poisoning.)

Most of the breakdowns happened during times
of extreme weather conditions because these
temperatures put more stress on the machinery.
Of course, this also means more stress on the
chickens. Some had heart attacks or heat stroke
and dehydration and died in the heat, some froze
to death in the cold.

This reminds me of one time that the chiller broke
down and it took about 13 1/2 hours to put a new
shaft in it because it had to be milled at a machine
shop and then put in there. Some of the birds sat
out on the truck from around 8:00 a.m. until we ran
them around midnight that night.

A lot of the chickens on the first six trucks we ran
were dead from dehydration, heat stress, and heart
attacks. The only reason they even dumped them
on the belt was because it was the only way to get
them out of the cages. The stench was so bad in
there that even hard-core hangers were sick to
their stomachs and throwing up. We just ran them
off the end of the belt and threw them down the
chute into the dumpster to be hauled over to off-
haul to be ground up for feed.

Of the approximately 36,000 chickens on those
trucks 1/2 to 3/4 of them died from heat-related
illness while on the trucks. That must have been
a terrible way to go. It was horrible.

However, inside the plant, the ones that were
already on the line when it quit were just stuck,
wherever they stopped. The ones in the stunner
drown in electrified salt water. The ones that are
in the scalder come out bones, with all the meat
cooked off of them. I shudder to think to how
that was for one that went in there alive. It
would have been cooked alive.

The ones that have been hung in the shackles,
but have not made it to the stunner just hang
there until they either die from the blood rushing
to their heads or in some sadistic way by a bored
hanger, for amusement to pass the time. I believe
I have already mentioned that breakdowns were
the most common time to see serious cruelty
through torturous "games." I wrote about that
recently. It still makes me sick.

The thing is that breakdowns are relatively
common. They rarely go more than 2 months
without a moderate breakdown, causing only a
few minutes to a few hours downtime. On average
there are about 3 or 4 major breakdowns a year
that involve the line being shut down for more
than one shift.

These major breakdowns are the ones that involve
the worst suffering of the chickens because they
don't stop the catchers unless they expect to
be down for more than 8 hours. That is standard
policy and practice. That is a long time to sit in a
cage on a truck in the hot sun all packed in, with no
water, or to sit out in the freezing weather, maybe
even in the sleet or freezing rain. I have seen that
happen for hours on end.

I used to live very close to the plant, so even when
I wasn't working, I often saw chickens sitting out
on the trucks in the parking lot waiting for their
turn to be hung. I have seen them sit there from
2:p.m. until we ran them that night at around 9:00.
This was in temperatures over 100 degrees in the
blazing sun.

Yeah, I know there was not a whole lot of new
information in this post, but I have been thinking
about that since I saw it the other day. It's a sad
thought to think that it goes on all the time, even
as you are reading this right now. I mean, think
about it. Right now, somewhere (probably a LOT
of somewheres) there is a chicken (cow, pig, etc.)
that is being tortured in some way, dying in agony,
while you are reading this.

It gets to me sometimes. How endless and cruel
it is. Not to mention how unnecessary.
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