<$BlogRSDUrl$> 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, May 30, 2005

Tortured by Tyson - Again! 

Well I guess most of you have heard by now that PETA got another investigator into yet another chicken slaughter plant and put up a website dedicated to the situation entitled the same as the title of this post, TorturedByTyson.com. This time they infiltrated a slaughter plant in Heflin, Alabama. And, of course, he reported seeing numerous atrocities, some of which he caught on videotape and some of which were only notated in the log he kept, along with photos.

Although the investigator repeatedly expressed complaints about the welfare of the chickens, nothing was done about them. In fact, ironically Tyson not only blamed him for them, but also accused him of staging them! Sound at all familiar? They can't refute the message, so they shoot the messenger. Same thing they did to me and anyone else brave enough to confront them with their unethical and illegal behavior, albeit with a new twist of blaming the investigator for the abuse rather than admitting it themselves or just outright denying it happened. Like someone that cares enough about animals to work undercover in such a hellhole to document abuse would actually purposely harm animals. Do their arguments get any more ridiculous than that? Yes, actually they do. They actually argue that this lowly kill floor worker should have stopped the line if one single chicken would have hit the scalder alive! Anyone that has been reading this blog for any length of time knows that that line doesn't stop without a very good reason without someone getting fired! Even a USDA inspector can be yelled at, even gotten rid of, for stopping the line without an extremely good reason (like major contamination), as he is reminded of exactly how many thousands of dollars he is costing the company for doing so. A line worker can only stop that line if there is some sort of major breakdown. I mean, really, can you imagine how much production would be lost if they stopped the line every single time a chicken was about to be scalded to death?! Do you really believe that line of B.S.? I don't. I know better. Hell, even the investigator said that his supervisor told him that at least 40 chickens were allowed to be scalded to death every shift (though the investigator saw more than that meet that horrible fate). Now that sounds much more like the truth to me.

The fact of the matter is that Tyson lies. They lie big time. About everything. And when they can't deny the truth well enough, they attack the person telling it any way they can. Period. You have certainly seen them do that to me.

Is it any wonder that more people don't come forward with stories of such horrible atrocities? Besides the fear of losing the only job they have, there is also the harassment from the community that a whistle-blower must endure. I mean, look at the lengths they have gone to to shut me up! And I am still being harassed and intimidated to this day. But I won't stop! Ever! I figure that if they are willing to go to such lengths to harass me, then that means that I am hurting them. If I was no real threat, then why would they waste their time and money going after me? Hmmmmmm???????

The list of atrocities and needless extreme suffering of these birds is entirely preventable, which makes it all the more heinous.

The short list of the things this brave man witnessed were things that were common sights that I have already reported in the pages of this site and the same as those uncovered by others in different plants nationwide, regardless of the company involved. Tyson is just the worst offender, and rather than really trying to stop such things, fights them with everything they have got. Complete and utter denial is their main defense, which is so lame that it is a wonder that anyone believes it.

Here are a few of the things reported by the investigator. Although you could get this same info by following the link I supplied above, I believe that they deserved to be printed in full here, as so many of them are so similar to the ones I have reported in the early pages of this blog )the pictures that go along with these reports can be found either at the PETA site above or on my photo page):

The slaughtering system being used at the plant resulted in the torture of countless chickens-the routine mutilation by a mechanical blade, manual decapitation, and scalding in defeathering tanks-all while they were still completely conscious.

December 7, 2004: First day at Tyson. I see the "live hang room" on the new employee tour. The air is hot and thick with the stench of blood. The only illumination is from dim red lights, like a photographer's dark room. This is supposed to keep chickens calm, but they are frightened; squawking, running, flapping their wings, and trying to hide. Workers move at a furious pace to hang live chickens by their feet from metal shackles on a conveyor belt. Birds' throats are cut by automatic blades further down the line. A worker cuts the throats of chickens the machine misses. The noise of voices, machines, and chickens screaming is deafening.

I'm told Tyson kills 150 to 200 thousand chickens a day here and that I'll "get used to" the noise and smells.

December 8, 2004: First day as "backup killer." I have to cut chickens' throats the automated blade misses, so they don't go into the scalding feather-removal bath alive. Only one person does this job, and the line moves so fast, it is impossible to give every chicken a lethal cut. When more chickens come through than can be handled, some workers rip off their heads while they hang shackled. They ignore the squawking and blood; that's business as usual on the killing line. There is a help button and an emergency stop button, but my boss tells me not to stop the line for missed birds. If no one comes to help immediately, birds are scalded to death.

December 9, 2004: A worker picked up one chicken who escaped the shackles and smashed her against the side of a wheelbarrow full of dead chickens. He left her convulsing on top of the corpses.

December 12, 2004: Took footage...of birds in a wheelbarrow who were alive/injured on top of other birds who were dead. Birds in the wheelbarrow get dumped into a Dumpster outside.

December 13, 2004: Took more video of birds in a pile of dirt and fecal matter on the floor. Some were alive, some were dead...I noticed today that many birds coming to me had their wings broken and bones exposed. It was almost always the birds' left wing...I noticed many birds with broken wings-and one who had been mutilated by the blade seemed to have her chest ripped open somehow.

December 14, 2004: The beginning of today's video shows more of my coworkers ripping birds' heads off. It is lengthy. After this, I have a conversation with my boss. I tell him that many birds come through with broken wings and ask why. He confirms my suspicion that it is because of a malfunction in the machinery that cuts the birds' throats. Then I ask him if this is also why some birds come through mangled, with their chests cut, and he nods yes...This results in live birds with broken wings and other mutilations.

December 16, 2004: Today, I was assigned the job of putting dead birds into wheelbarrows and taking them out to the Dumpster...At one point, I picked up a baby bird and placed her on the conveyor belt. The guy working that part of the line picked up the bird and slammed her into the belt-to kill her, I assume.

December 19, 2004: Many mutilated chickens were coming down the line. One bird's chest was slashed open. Some were split in half, while some were completely gone-the only thing left was their legs hanging from the shackles. I ran down the line trying to cut all their throats and saw that the cutting machine had malfunctioned. I stopped the line and called for help. I had to cut each waiting chicken's throat by hand while maintenance workers fixed it.

February 7, 2005: [L]ast night, I witnessed a bird who was obviously hung in a hurry-as she was only hanging by her head in the leg shackle. I stopped the line, removed her, and started the line again. She blinked numerous times and she was breathing as I laid her down. I am guessing her neck was broken and she was paralyzed. For whatever reason, she was unable to move.


So, you may be wondering what it is that Tyson has had to say about all of this. Well, I read five different articles on this, and wasn't the least bit surprised by their lame comments. I have a strong feeling that the people assigned to deal with this sort of damage control have never been the ones standing on the kill floor getting one single drop of blood on their precious expensive suits, much less peeling the clots of blood out of their eyes like I did.

You know, the really upsetting thing about all of this is not just the suffering, but the politics, power, and money that has gone into purposely excluding poultry from the Humane Slaughter Act, which enables any sort of abuse, and even outright torture, to be inflicted on these birds with impunity. You might remember me telling of even worse atrocities back in September of 2003 when I did a series of articles on just this problem. Because of the fact that there have been two more investigations since I came forward that brought to light similar thing happening in these plants, I have decided that it is worth repeating parts of those posts for those that have not read them yet.

Back when I came forward and started talking about what went on, I was citing such horrors as workers blowing up chickens with dry ice bombs, a worker playing a "prank" of shoving each chicken's head up the butt of the chicken in front of it, so that they couldn't pull their heads out, leaving some of them barely alive and suffocating others and the rest of them bleeding from their butts,someone hanging about 20 chickens from their wings instead of their legs so that when they ran through the killing machine it cut their feet off. With no feet, they couldn't be rehung on the line, so most of them got thrown in the DOA dumpster still alive (and we all know what happens to the ones in there - they go straight to the augur to be ground up alive, mostly for use in animal feed). A lot of them also had their wings snatched off by the killer and the utility guy that ran in the killing room to pull them off. Sometimes people would intentionally hang chickens by their heads because the guy on the end of the line had to snatch them off and rehang them right. Since the hanger didn't have time to properly rehang the bird, she just had her feet hung up their with her head, leaving her almost sure to be scalded alive because the killer couldn't get to their throats to cut them and the shackle wouldn't squeeze their throats enough to strangle them. One night a guy on the end of the line got really aggravated and picked up a piece of pipe about 2 ft. long (a 3/4" piece of galvanized steel hot water line that maintenance had inadvertently left in the floor after replacement that night). He started whacking the chickens' heads off with it like a baseball bat because one of them shit in his face. The heads would travel across the room and hit the wall about 10 ft. away and just splatter like tomatoes against the wall. He did about 10-15 birds that way.

And, of course, none of this even touches what happened to the runts that didn't respond to the growth stimulants. Standard policy was to just throw them in
the dumpster alive. This is the same one that the DOAs went in. Several times a night a forklift would come by and pick it up and set down a new one. The ones they carried away went to the augur where the chickens were ground up, the runts being ground alive.

This wasn't enough for some of the workers around there. They had to get a little more creative about it. One of the things they did was to take a step back off the line with one and chunk it into the exhaust fans over our heads. The exhaust fan would pulverize it and sling it back as a mush into the person's face who was standing directly below it. (Ha ha ha! Real funny, huh? Sick.) This was
fun since it would totally freak out a new person who is standing there on the line, trying to hang their chickens and suddenly gets a face full of blood, guts, feathers, and shit.

Another thing I have seen them do to them is to throw them against the wall as hard as they could. It would leave a big bloody smear on the wall. I fail to see how this is amusing, but it seemed to give them a real thrill, anyway.

The third, and last, way that they would cull a runt was also the most common. They simply pulled its head off and threw it on the floor to watch it flop. Sadly enough, this was probably the most humane way, but still a bit sick for the reason behind it. It wasn't that they were trying to be humane, they just wanted to watch it flop and sling blood everywhere. It was especially common for them to do it and throw the chicken behind a new person. The bird would flop up and bounce against the backs of their legs. They would turn around and look and see a headless bird flopping around, spraying blood all over them. I think this would be quite an upsetting thing to happen to anybody, but especially somebody who had never been in the hanging cage before. It was always great fun to mess with the new people. What can they do?

There would be several hundred runts a night, and management didn't care, since they were to be culled anyway.

So, what is a caring person to do about this? Well, besides the obvious efforts of contacting those that represent you in Congress about adding poultry to the Humane Slaughter Act and/or refusing to support such torturous atrocities by refusing to support them with your money by going vegetarian like I did, we also need to demand that the industry implement Controlled Atmosphere Killing (CAK).

I wrote extensively on this subject more than once, even doing a recent radio show about it that is available for free download.

One thing is certain. We do not have to stand by and allow this to keep going on, just as it is right this second as you read this. Whether you eat meat or not, surely you want to make sure that the meat you eat has been treated as humanely as possible. It should be obvious to you by now that this is not the case. Personally, knowing what I know and having seen what I did, I couldn't stomach another single bite of the stuff no matter how hungry I was. And I certainly do not want my hard-earned money funding such abuse, cruelty and torture.

Even if you have no love for chickens, implementing CAK would have major benefits for the workers that toil away in these hellholes so that you don't have to just so that you can munch on chicken nuggets. Is it all really worth all of this pain and suffering, even for the workers? I haven't found a decent and caring person anywhere that believes so.

I would be more than glad to send anyone who asks the extensive information I have studied on CAK. I;m not just spouting anyone's party line here. I have read up on the issue, and I am convinced that it will be the biggest thing we could do for the welfare of the chickens and the workers. Believe it or not, it will even benefit the industry and consumers as well.

So, why is Tyson dragging their feet on this one? Why don't you ask John Tyson about that yourself.

John Tyson, Chair and CEO
Tyson Foods, Inc.
2210 W. Oaklawn Dr.
Springdale, AR 72762-6999
479-290-4000
479-290-4061 (fax)

I will even provide you with another contact, their public relations manager, who infiltrated my Activists Against Factory Farming group at Yahoo for the single purpose of harassing me with the userid ederdn2, so I will provide the contact info for contacting him, too.

Ed Nicholson
479-290-4591
ed.nicholson@tyson.com.

I am sure he would be glad to hear from you! ;)

There is also a petition that has been started to urge Tyson to implement CAK here: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/352097090

Oh, and if you wish to join the discussion and post your own ideas for accomplishing the above ideas, I have set up a sister group to the one at Yahoo that serves as more of a discussion group, although the same articles get posted there as well. Only serious activists need to join, though. Flamers and trolls are not tolerated and will be banned immediately. We have a warm and friendly group there of over 400 people that grows by the day. We would love to have you if you want to discuss this and other similar issues or just want to lurk and learn.
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