<$BlogRSDUrl$> 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.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Do They Even Know They are Chickens? 

One of the things that was hardest for me
to accept was how little these chickens would
actually seem to know about the world around
them. Not because they were stupid, mind you,
but because they were so young and immature.
Because they are still babies at the slaughter
age of around 7-9 weeks. They may look full-
grown, but they are still just babies in terms
of how long they have been alive.

I became aware of this when I tried to rescue
7 of the broiler chickens from the plant and
was going to try to raise them loose in the
yard. I lived in the country, so I figured it
would be a nice home for them.

I had a big yard and no cats or dogs of my
own to bother them. They were to be the
start of a little rescue program I had devised
in my head. But, I found out real quick that
you couldn't just turn these birds loose out
in the yard.

One of them drowned herself in a rainstorm
because she stood out there and looked up
in the sky, not knowing what rain was. Her
mouth was open when she was looking up,
and she drowned. The rest of them just
wandered off in the woods and I never saw
them again. Something obviously got them.

At first, it didn't make any sense to me. I
had grown up with chickens and they lived
just fine. When I was growing up, we didn't
confine our chickens. They did have a little
house they went in at night, but there was
no fenced area for them. They survived just
fine, even with dogs and cats around.

After I thought about it awhile, I realized that,
even those these birds were the size of full-
grown ones, they were still babies. Worse,
they had never known a mother hen, and so
were never taught anything. I realized what
a sad mistake I had made after it was too late.

I also learned a valuable lesson about factory
farming. You know, these chickens spend a
very short, miserable life and never even know
a mother
. That's got to be about the most
cruel thing you can do to any animal. I don't
even believe they know what they are. It's
like the whole callous automation of the
factory farming process robs them of what
makes them chickens, their "chicken-ness,"
if you will.

These birds didn't even scratch the ground
for food, practicing normal foraging behavior.
They probably would have starved had I not
thrown food out for them. I would liken them
to severely mentally disabled humans that did
not know the basic things to do that are
necessary for survival.

It's hard for me to believe that people can do
this sort of thing without believing that it is
wrong, at least morally. But there are people
who do just that every day and don't believe
they are wrong.

Now, I'm not saying that no one should rescue
these birds. I am all behind such things, but
they do need special care in a special place
where they can be safe. They preferably need
to be in a place where other chickens can teach
them how to be a chicken. They are smart
enough to learn, even if they have been done
this way. They can be successfully rehabilitated,
with a lot of love and patience. Karen over at
UPC has sure proved that with her wonderful work.

I also am not suggesting that their ignorance
of normal chicken behavior causes them to
suffer any less. Actually, I think it makes the
situation worse. The less you understand,
the more scary something is. That is pretty
much true of any living creature. To me,
mistreating them vs. a barnyard chicken is
like the difference between mistreating a little
kid vs. an adult. They are both equally
wrong and in both situations there is suffering.
It just seems worse when innocents suffer.

Babies are innocent. And they need mothers.
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