AR-News: Inside the Chicken Industry
gk at gkgraphicdesigns.com
Wed Sep 24 22:23:54 EDT 2003
United Poultry Concerns * PO Box 150 * Machipongo, VA 23405
Phone: 757-678-7875 * Fax: 757-678-5070 * www.UPC-online.org
September 24, 2003
This letter, by former Tyson chicken slaughter plant employee, Virgil
Butler, was mistakenly omitted from UPCs website posting of the Summer-Fall
2003 PoultryPress, Volume 13, No. 2. It has now been added, but to be sure
that you read it, we are sending it to you now. The letter appears on page
11 of PoultryPress and can be read on line at
Thank you very much. UPC Editors
Inside the Chicken Industry
In the Spring issue of PoultryPress (www.upc-online.org) we ran Virgil
Butlers testimony describing his employment at a Tyson chicken
slaughterhouse from 1997 to 2002. Mr. Butler wrote the following letter to
the San Francisco Chronicle in response to Karen Daviss commentary on the
McDonalds antibiotics policy.
Will the McDonalds policy cure cruelty to chickens?
By Virgil Butler
I dont believe so. I worked at a Tyson chicken slaughter plant in Grannis,
AR (a supplier for McDonalds, 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 nights work
before I could wash it off. The chickens had to live that way.
Ive seen chickens starve in the houses because their feet were stuck in the
muck. Ive seen the catchers stomp, kick, and slam chickens on the ground. I
ve seen them cull the runts by pulling their heads off. Ive 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 dont go to McDonalds 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 dont live long enough to make it to the
slaughter plant because they have died of disease or been killed by cruelty?
Technically McDonalds would be able to say that their chickens didnt
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 Ive seen birds scalded alive, pulled apart, and
blown up with dry ice bombs for laughs. Ive seen them run over by
forklifts. These issues have nothing to do with antibiotics.
These points dont list anywhere near the routine cruelty I have seen
through the years, but they would not be addressed by McDonalds 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.
What Can I 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
Email: Gwatts at ChickenUSA.org
Rlobb at ChickenUSA.org
United Poultry Concerns is a nonprofit organization that promotes the
compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl.
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