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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From 24 October 2003 Issue

Inside the Chicken Industry
Will the McDonald’s policy cure cruelty to chickens?
By Virgil Butler

I don’t believe so. I worked at a Tyson chicken slaughter plant in Grannis, AR (a supplier for McDonald’s, KFC, etc.) for a number of years and a few other plants as well. I caught chickens from the houses as a teenager before that. I am intimately familiar with the poultry business and the living conditions of the chickens.

I have seen the filth, death, and disease that breed from these conditions as well as the outright abuse the chickens endure from the workers. What I have seen is bad enough that my wife and I no longer eat chicken.

I have seen the chickens blinded by the ammonia fumes that build up in the houses. I have had the ammonia burns on my arms from handling the chickens that were coated with ammonia. My exposure lasted only for a night’s work before I could wash it off. The chickens had to live that way.

I’ve seen chickens starve in the houses because their feet were stuck in the muck. I’ve seen the catchers stomp, kick, and slam chickens on the ground. I’ve seen them “cull the runts” by pulling their heads off. I’ve seen all the roosters of a breeder house be killed by having their heads bashed by a metal pipe, since they were too big for our plant to hang, unlike the spent hens. These spent breeder chickens don’t go to McDonald’s directly, but they are a by-product of the industry. These chickens are fed to other chickens as well as to your pet dog.

What about all the chickens that don’t live long enough to make it to the slaughter plant because they have died of disease or been killed by cruelty? Technically McDonald’s would be able to say that their chickens didn’t suffer the cruelty that killed these chickens. They are wrong. Their chickens suffered the same conditions and risks, but were unfortunate enough to survive long enough (a couple of months) to have to suffer the final cruelty of all, the slaughter.

At the slaughter plant I’ve seen birds scalded alive, pulled apart, and blown up with dry ice bombs for laughs. I’ve seen them run over by forklifts. These issues have nothing to do with antibiotics.

These points don’t list anywhere near the routine cruelty I have seen through the years, but they would not be addressed by McDonald’s in this new policy. This new policy might ban antibiotics used as growth-enhancers, but as long as farmers raise the birds in the conditions they do, they will have to give the birds antibiotics just to keep them alive.

Virgil Butler

What can you do??

Eat vegan AND urge the chicken industry to set specific welfare standards eliminating the crowding, poor hygiene, forced rapid growth, and worker abuse of chickens. Request a written reply.

George Watts, President
National Chicken Council
1015 15th Street, NW, Suite 930
Washington DC 20005-2605
Ph: 202-296-2622
Fax: 202-293-4005
Email: [email protected]

            [email protected]

United Poultry Concerns is a nonprofit organization that promotes the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl.

Return to Animals in Print 24 October 2003 Issue

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