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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.
Saturday, October 25, 2003
I hadn't thought about in a while. Maybe my
subconscious was being kind and blocking the
memory of this horrific event. If that is so, it
must have changed its mind. Warning: This
post is quite graphic, even for me.
The whole thing started because maintenance
had left quite a few bent shackles on the line.
We had complained about the problem for a
couple of days, but no one did anything about
it. This is another one of those incidents that
could have been prevented so easily.
I had been noticing one of them getting slowly
worse. Once one of these shackles gets bent
or warped it will start catching on the machinery,
guards, and guides as it goes by, therefore
getting worse and worse. It finally went around
one time too many and ended up on the stunner.
The stunner stands up on an aluminum stand,
so it didn't take that much force to completely
pull it loose from its mounts. It dragged it into
the killing machine, snarling them together. The
killing machine is bolted into the concrete with 1"
bolts, so it didn't go anywhere. The line broke.
That is every line-worker's nightmare because that
line is heavy, especially when it is full of chickens.
The line piled up into the killing room into the
scalders and ran the killer out of the room. If you
can imagine 1/4 mile of steel chain piled up in the
floor with chickens still piled up in it, then you have
got something of what this looked like. This pile
was about 9' high and covered in pulverized
The motors that drove the line didn't get turned
off because everybody just ran. This is considered
about the equivalent in chicken plant disasters to a
coal mine starting to collapse. If that chain piles up
on you it will crush you. There were also about 5000
chickens on the line when this happened. A lot of
them were alive.
When something like this happens, it is like a train
wreck because it comes off, yet keeps coming and
piling up. All those live birds were nearly at the
bottom of it. It took them the whole shift to clean
that up. They had to take the chain apart. It was
just an entanglement of bent and broken shackles,
tangled chain, and crushed chickens.
I helped clean it up with a few others from back dock.
Let me tell you, it was horrible. Those chickens were
just pulverized. The bones, meat, and feathers were
ground up by the chain into the floor. We had to
sweep it up into a dustpan and then wash the floor
down. We put the mush in four 50-gallon plastic
barrels that were used for that type of purpose.
It was one of the goriest messes I ever had to deal
with. I started out with an apron on, but it didn't
last 5 minutes before it kept getting hung on the
pieces of metal. I had to just do this in my clothes
so I looked like an axe-murderer when I was done.
When I got home I used up a bar of soap and all
the hot water trying to get clean. It was even in
my hair. I had gooey chicken mush all over me.
That was definitely one night I was glad to see over.
Oh, I'm so glad I don't work there anymore.