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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.
Wednesday, October 29, 2003
was pulled down at the plant sometimes.
I say "down at the plant" because that
was where the effects were felt. However,
the action itself was taken by the catchers
when they were catching the chickens.
They would catch different animals that
were normally wild, but would be found in
the chicken house when they went to catch
the chickens. They would throw these wild
animals in the cages with the chickens so
that they would fall out on the belt at the
plant and freak out all the hangers. I have
to admit that this did work rather well. We
were quite freaked when that happened.
Some of the animals that were thrown in
with the birds were snakes and large rats
mostly, but occasionally I have seen a skunk
or a opossum, and a few rabbits once.
The rabbits come around to eat the spilled
chicken feed after the feed truck comes to
fill up the silos. It makes them grow abnormally
large until they get to where they can't hop
around properly. That makes them easy to
catch. This goes for the rats, too, especially
if they have been raised around it. They also
get abnormally large.
They catch these animals and put them in
cages with the chickens on the trucks. If it
is an animal like a skunk or a opossum, it
will just mangle the chickens in there. I guess
it just gets so scared that it just goes crazy
and goes wild and rips them to pieces, biting
their legs, wings, and heads off.
I even saw a opossum get brought in one time
that had its leg caught in the door. I guess it
had been trying to get back out when the cage
door was closed on it. The poor thing chewed
its own foot off trying to get loose. It also bit
the guy on the dump when he tried to get it
out of the cage. They ended up beating it to
death with a steel rod. They threw it in with
the DOAs, as they did any other animal that
came in like that.
I remember another time that there was a
skunk brought in. You could smell it outside
before he dumped the cage. I don't know why
he dumped it since you could smell it outside
before, but he dumped it. That skunk ran
down the belt as fast as it could and sprayed
the first hanger he saw in the face. The guy,
of course, immediately got sick and puked
everywhere. Then the skunk jumped up and
bit a chicken, holding on as it went down the line,
and the chicken carried him into the stunner.
You could her him thump around in the stunner
for a few seconds. Then he fell out on the floor,
flopped around for a minute or two, and died.
And, yes he was thrown in the DOA bin also.
I have heard of a few catchers getting bit while
trying to catch these animals. One guy was
dumb enough to try to catch a coon and it
damned near took his hand off. I had not a
bit of sympathy for him.
Normally when a cage was brought in and it
was discovered that there was what they called
a "foreign animal" in it, Richard would come back
there with an air rifle and shoot whatever it was
repeatedly in the head until he killed it. Sometimes
it would take 10-12 shots before something as
big as a skunk or opossum died, so he was also
known to bring back a .22 revolver to do the deed.
Most were discovered and killed before ever
getting out of the cage, but it did happen. It
was mostly the rats that got by unnoticed. It
wasn't uncommon to see 2-3 of those a week
to come in there. I think sometimes they might
even crawl in the cages as they were being
loaded because they were going after the
defenseless chickens in the cage and because
it was so prevalent that it seemed unlikely to
have been intentionally done by the catchers.
It also seemed to come in a cycle. It seemed to
be the same houses over and over that had the
rats in them. The point is that this was such a
common thing. Not the bigger animals, like
skunks or opossums, but the rats.
The dangerous thing about this is that they
were around the chickens, were killed by the
workers at whatever point they were discovered
in brutal ways, and dumped in the DOA bin.
Those of you who have read previous entries
know that this means that they are ground
up along with the dead chickens that can't
be sold for human consumption and turned
into feed for animals, mostly right back to the
next generation of chickens.
Of course, anyone can see the obvious danger
here. Who knows what kind of disease those
rats may be carrying?
I also have a serious problem with anyone who
thinks it is fun to throw a wild animal into a
cage with the chickens. I wonder how much of
that activity was done to freak us out and how
much was done to watch the animal tear up the
chickens. I do know that some of the Hispanic
people down in Wickes that worked both as
catchers as well as at the plant used to put a
chicken in a pen with a pit bull to watch the dog
tear the chicken up. It was one of their favorite
"sports" down there, so I'm sure you can follow
There is such an inherent meanness that seems
to come out in most workers that stay in the
industry long enough. It will make you mean.
It made me mean, even though I resisted it.
A lot of people don't resist it.
A lot of the people who start out doing things
to animals end up doing things to people.
Here is a good example of the very kind of
meanness I'm talking about. Enough said.