<$BlogRSDUrl$> 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.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Latest News - Bad and Good 

I have more bad news to report, I am sorry to say. One of the roosters, affectionately called "the monsters," died yesterday. He died from a very common factory farming created syndrome that is commonly referred to as "flipover syndrome." On this page, Jim Mason's article quotes a poultry farmer:

In broiler operations, some birds suddenly jump into the air, give off a loud squawk and fall over dead. This 'flipover syndrome' is usually seen in the larger, faster-growing birds, yet poultry experts say its cause is not known. One southern broiler farmer told me that he had been losing several birds a day from this condition, which he called 'heart attack'. He told me that the problem is 'in the birds - they grow too fast these days'.


And on this industry site, written by a veterinarian, among the very long list of poultry diseases the factory farming system has caused, this syndrome gets a small note under the category of "Other."

Acute death syndrome ("flipover," "heart attack" birds) 1. Cause - unknown, thought to be related to rapid growth 2. Gross - none other than pulmonary edema 3. Micro - same as gross 4. Trans - none


So, despite the very best care we could give him, he died. To give you a better idea of just how big these birds get when they don't go to slaughter, we took another picture of the surviving rooster just yesterday. You can see how much he has grown since we got him. He is now grieving and wasn't the least bit aggressive towards us yesterday when we went in there to take these pictures. The first one was taken to show a bit of scale as to exactly how huge he really is now. Based on how heavy the one I buried was when I picked him up yesterday, I would say that they weigh close to 20 lbs.





The second one Laura took to show how we worked out the trough system so that when we aren't here, others can feed him without actually having to go into the pen since they are so afraid of what was "them" and is now, sadly, only "him." Now that it is getting cold, we are going to go out there today and cover the cracks in the boards and make the entry hole to the house smaller, as well as getting him some more fresh nesting material. We kept it the way it was through the warm weather specifically to prevent what occurred yesterday by having enough air circulating in there to keep them from getting too hot and having this happen. These poor birds are so badly genetically manipulated that few of them survive long after they reach the age of slaughter. The only reason he lasted as long as he did was that we had taken such good care of him. We can only hope that our continued good care will keep the remaining rooster alive.

We are now even more actively pursuing proper mates for him so that he will not be so lonely. We are afraid that the extra strain of grieving will prove to be too hard on him, and we don't want to lose him, too. The problem is that, since he is so big, regular "broiler" chickens and our other hens we have here cannot be put with him because he will hurt them. We have to find similarly large "layer" hens (the ones the industry uses to raise new birds with, not the ones used for unfertilized eggs), to put with him. Any of the others could not withstand the mounting and could sustain great injuries, even to the point of broken bones. So, if anyone knows of or has "spent" layer hens who have been rescued or knows of a chicken farmer that would be willing to let go of some, please contact me ASAP. It really could be a life or death matter for him, as he could literally grieve himself to death. His heart might not be able to withstand the loss of his only friend.

We also lost one of the hens rescued long before I met Laura the day before. Her name was Hester. Nothing really bad happened to her or anything; she was just old, as are several of the ones left here now. The only bright spot in this is that it frees up more room for more rescues, though that fact doesn't help much when you are holding a lifeless body of a friend you have known for years and are digging their grave to return them to Mother Earth. Doing rescue work is hard on the heart, even with the many joys it brings. I have certainly dug too many graves this year...

In other news, to bring you up to date on the bogus "theft" charges brought against Laura and me for trying to return that bag left in the shopping cart in the parking lot of Wal-Mart, the case is now over. We appeared in court to ask for a lawyer. That didn't happen. They were determined to try us that very day without representation and with the very real possibility of us both going to jail and paying huge fines. So, as many innocent, but unrepresented or underrepresented poor people around here, I went ahead and just made a plea deal to save Laura from the possibility of her going to jail for something she didn't do. Yes, I pleaded guilty to something I didn't do (not the first time I have done this, either) in order to spare her and me from being railroaded and probably facing more severe consequences than I received under the plea. As it stands, all I have to do is to pay a fine of $1100 by April. If I don't, then I go to jail. But at least Laura is safe and the charges against her dismissed, though we are both banned from Wal-Mart forever. As you all know, this was only about trying to paint me as "still a criminal" and not at all reformed in order to destroy my credibility. That, and to cost us money. It seems like that has been the latest tactic used against us lately since nothing else has worked to shut me up. They have worked tirelessly to cost us money and to keep me from being able to find even odd jobs in order to earn any money. I haven't reported everything here publicly that they have done, but others know and keep records on all of this should the worst ever happen to me. We don't use your donations for this, though. These types of costs come out of our own shallow pockets. Your money goes only for the support of the animals, unless otherwise specified.

The good news is that the dogs we are fostering are doing well and getting much better. Bill is coming slowly, but surely around, though he is still afraid of just the sight of me and will growl when he sees me. I am not pushing him, though I do call his name out and talk softly to him when I feed and water him each day. Laura and her sister are the ones who have been able to make great strides with him and start building trust. He is going to require a lot of love and patience, though. The sight of him being so afraid, trembling and growling just at the sight of me walking by his pen, makes me want to get my hands on the man who made him this way, though. What a low-down dirty coward to treat a sweet little dog that way!

Spaz has just made himself completely at home and now spends most of his time up at Laura's mother's, laying on one of the chairs on the porch, playing with the kids or other dogs, or lounging inside. Despite our best efforts, we just could not keep that dog in a pen. He always figured a way out no matter what I did. Since being in there was so distressing to him (and Bill didn't like him in there anyway), we finally just gave up and let him do as he pleased. He has stolen the heart of Laura's mother. He is one of those dogs who "grins" at you when he is happy, showing his front teeth as he exuberantly wags his tail. He really is a neat dog, as are they all.

Sophia's eyes are almost completely cleared up, and Jake is as happy as he can be. They play together every day, as do Dusty and Sugar Boy. I wish we could keep them all. But we go through 200 lbs. of food a week now just for them, not counting what we go through for the chickens. We can't do that forever without more help than what we currently are getting. And, even more important, as long as we don't get these dogs placed in homes, we don't have any more spots for more who badly need placement in a loving foster home so that they can return to good health, too. Needless to say, we have just been on an emotional roller coaster ride here lately.

This has been a very hard year for us, but we will soldier on because what we are doing is right and just. The animals need us and just keep coming, as do the questions from people wanting to know more about where their food comes from. This has pretty much become a full-time job for us, though one with no pay, but many heartwarming benefits, despite the heartbreak at the losses of life.

We really couldn't stop now even if we wanted to anyway. Being in the public eye is about the only protection we have. But I will tell all about all of it in the book. You can count on that. Speaking of which, I got a little mini-tape recorder for my birthday to make it easier for me to get the material for the book onto something that Laura can type it up from. Spending the time writing it all out or just trying to dictate it straight to her wasn't working out so well. So, hopefully with this wonderful new gadget, the book will become real a whole lot sooner.

Then, the rest of this long saga not yet reported here on the blog will be told...
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