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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, February 16, 2005
We have rescued two more chickens! Like the others, they had apparently fallen off of a truck on their way to the slaughterhouse. But unlike the others, these are in pretty good shape. There was one dead one further down the road, but these two had apparently fallen off while the truck wasn't going too fast. They were not far from where our little back road turns onto the highway. So, we are really happy that we have been given the opportunity to give these birds a new life. Because of their size, these would also have been a problem to hang and would have suffered greatly during that process. Some of you might remember the post I wrote about how when the birds are too big, their legs get broken as they are slammed into the shackles that aren't big enough for them. Well, that's the size these birds are. So, we are doubly glad that we were able to save them. As soon as I can I will see about getting some pics of them up on the photo page. (Boy, I'll be glad when I can get my own camera!)
Anyway, back to the radio show yesterday.
You saw the press release, so you already know what it was that I was talking about. But, I will share with you just a bit of what I was saying until you can download the file for yourself.
You see, within the movement there is real problem - a kind of disconnect. So many activists say horrible things about the people who toil away in these miserable conditions and do these uncaring and even torturous things to the birds. But what they don't realize is that these workers are, in most cases, just as much victims of the industry as the chickens, and that the main reason they do unspeakable things is mostly because of these conditions (not always, but usually). Most people seem to think that only "monsters" could do this job, when in reality most of them are simply poor people trying to feed their families and that have no other options. They don't like what they are doing any more than we do, but they truly feel like they have no choice.
I also think that it is important to try to work towards enacting legislation that will prevent violent offenders from working with live animals in these places. It's hard enough on a so-called "normal" person to go in there and do that brutal job. It affects you in so many ways and does things to your head, resulting in actions that you would have never thought you would do, and probably wouldn't have done otherwise. It's even worse when someone who already has violent tendencies gets put in these jobs. I'm not saying that we should make it any harder than it already is for felons, especially violent ones, to get a job. Goodness knows it's hard enough as it is, as I know from personal experience. But, I do believe that people with violent histories should not be working with live animals. Most of them don't make the distinction between people that "deserve it" and animals that I did. And I am not saying that so many people actually "deserve" to be attacked physically. But I thought so at the time. However, I never thought that innocent animals "deserve" it, though most violent offenders don't make that distinction, which is what prompted quite a few of my violent acts. Kind of gave them a dose of their own medicine, so to speak. I have always stood up for the underdog, the weak and helpless, and I have always hated bullies. But, we have to give these people some kind of job ,now don't we? Because if society shuns them and refuses to hire them, then what are they left with besides more crime? And they are still human beings. They may have made a mistake, but no one is (well, at least very few are) totally beyond redemption, as my story clearly illustrates.
The main thing we need to accomplish is to dispel the myth that these incidents are isolated and only committed by "a few bad apples." It's really quite widespread, and most of the people are otherwise "normal" people that just happen to have been born into a rural impoverished area with few opportunities and not much education. They are miserable and have no hope of anything ever getting any better.
But, what I really wanted to get across to everyone was the high potential of CAK (Controlled Atmosphere Killing) to alleviate the vast majority of the problems. Even though we do need to work to get chickens covered under the Humane Slaughter Act so that prosecutors will have a specific law to prosecute offenders under, it still has to be enforced. And we already know how lax that law has been as far as protecting cows and pigs, for instance. Cows are still skinned and dismembered alive, and pigs are still scalded to death, just like chickens are. CAK, on the other hand, will offer real protection to these birds simply because they would be beyond feeling by the time these workers get their hands on them to hang them in the shackles, much less put a knife to their throats.
I have written about this before, but for those that are new to this site and have not read that post yet, CAK is an argon/nitrogen-based system that has 2% residual oxygen, so it's really more of an oxygen-deprivation system. I have researched this thoroughly and read the studies on it, and I am convinced that this is the way to go, both for the chickens and for the workers.
Unlike the inhumane CO2 gas-killing method where the chickens avoid the chamber if they can, and when they can't, gasp and choke as they die, they will calmly walk right into a CAK chamber. They don't detect the lack of oxygen in the air and will just start eating or whatever until they simply fall asleep peacefully and die. In the slaughterhouse, what they would do is to lower each cage of chickens into one of these chambers before dumping them on the belt for the hangers to put in the shackles. The last place these live birds are handled by humans is at the growers' as they are caught and loaded into the cages.
And you may remember me telling you that this is already being used overseas. The most recent place they decided to implement this system is at Deans Foods.at its plant at Gainsborough, Lincolnshire. They are using it for "spent hens and breeders," which is a more "challenging task, as the birds tend to be more 'flighty' and 'lively' than broilers. This was of particular concern at the hanging on stage, where the birds seem to suffer additional stress before being stunned."
And, the best thing about this method is that it benefits everyone. It's better for the birds, it makes the workers' jobs much easier and less stressful, and it even helps the industry itself because the meat from these birds is not all bruised, and the bones aren't broken. It's also faster, as they "can now de-bone hens on line, maturing in just two hours rather than the 24 hours that we used to."
The divisional director of Deans Foods just really gushed about this in the article.
"Without a doubt the single most important factor to us in buying the Anglia Autoflow CAS system is that it is the most welfare friendly system of stunning poultry available" Mark Gaskin, divisional director at Deans Foods, said. Both the RSPCA and the Humane Slaughter Association have inspected the system and have given their approval.
"We are also very impressed with the improved staff working conditions and the dramatic change in meat quality," Gaskin said. "We aimed for a certain level, but the actual results have far exceeded our expectations."
So, I guess the next most logical question is: "Why won't the poultry industry over here start using this, if it's so great?"
Good question. That's what I would like to know. But, I will attempt to answer it with the best line of thinking and one we talked about yesterday on the show.
If they agreed to do this, 1) they would be seen "giving in to activist pressure," and 2) they would have to admit to the general public that there is something wrong with the current system. You know how they try to play up how "humane" they are, using the "best science," blah, blah, blah... Well, they couldn't very well have that fly if they decided to implement this and had to explain to their shareholders and the public alike just exactly why they thought that this new method would so greatly improve things that they would spend the money to upgrade all their plants.
But, it is going to happen, anyway. It's just a matter of time. As more and more people find out about this system and put pressure on the industry to do this, they will have to cave. You might remember me recently telling you that PETA had written KFC, Wendy's, and McDonald's about this, asking them to require their suppliers to implement this. Well, KFC is digging in their heels, being stubborn, and refusing to even consider it, while McDonald's has actually decided to study it and see about doing just that. Some of their European suppliers are using it, but they are going to "research it" here first. At least that's something. Good for you, McDonald's. Shame on you, KFC. (For those who want to see just how stubborn and unmoving, and thus uncaring, KFC is, even going against the recommendations of their own welfare advisory folks, I have written about it at length here on the site, and you can use the search box to read all about it and/or you can check this site out: http://www.kentuckyfriedcruelty.com/)
In the meantime, birds are suffering, workers are suffering, and consumers are eating lower-quality, inhumanely-treated - let's face it, downright tortured - chicken. And none of it has to be this way. Only stubbornness is making this happen. With a bit of ignorance thrown in on the part of the public. Let's educate them. You know now, so pass this info around. Please.
Let's just hurry up with the "researching" part. Chickens and workers are suffering right now as McDonald's studies this and as you, the reader of this site, read this. Right now it's happening. Oops! There goes another chicken scalded alive. Oops! There goes another chicken bounced against a wall.
And we activists, workers (and no doubt, the poor chickens would feel the same if they knew), are getting sick and tired of waiting for someone to care enough to actually do something.
So, will you help? Will you be a part of the solution? I hope so.
Pass this around. Then, contact KFC and tell them to get with the program. 1-800-CALL-KFC