Despite Perdue’s High Welfare Standards, Some Chickens Can’t Survive 45 Days

Kelly Guerin / We Animals

By: Jennifer Mishler
Reading Time: 5 minutes

As a filmmaker for We Animals Media (WAM), Kelly Guerin has traveled to farms and slaughterhouses around the world to document the life and death of the farmed animals confined inside.

Most poultry farms look the same, says Guerin, easily recognized by their long barns with fluorescent lighting and the noise of whirring fans. But this chicken farm is the first she’s gained access to in the United States—where chickens account for 95 percent of the land animals killed for food each year—and, as she puts it, is “the first with a company name I recognized, who sends chickens to very familiar restaurants.”

This time, a farmer invited her in, wanting to talk openly about being caught up in the supply chain of Perdue Farms.

The farm, owned by Rudy Howell, contracts exclusively with Perdue which slaughters 700 million chickens each year making it the country’s fourth-largest poultry producer.

“[Perdue] calls themselves a family farm, but they’re a corporate farm. They have control over everything out here,” he said.

On Perdue’s website, they proudly claim, “We give our chickens room to roam.” In February, Perdue reported having met its goal of 25 percent of its chicken supplier farms meeting “free-range” standards, which still allow crowded barns as long as there is a way for birds to access the outdoors, however limited.

On the farm, Guerin witnessed what rapid growth in chickens actually looks like and why animal protection groups are pushing to end the practice.

Along with confined environments and overweight birds, culling is a daily reality inside factory farms that, before COVID-19, often went unseen. Perdue is no exception.

As Guerin toured Howell’s farm, she was shown how sick and dying young birds are killed. Farmers often use a method called cervical dislocation, in which a chicken’s head is stretched away from the body, as the bird is decapitated by hand. According to Perdue and the rest of the poultry industry, this is considered an acceptable way for farmed chickens to be killed.

In fact, a reminder to cull animals daily was listed on signs provided by Perdue and posted on the doors of the barn during Guerin’s tour.
The Rise of Factory Farmed Chicken
In the late 1920s, chickens became the first large-scale farmed animals, bred and raised indoors for egg production. The 1948 Chicken of Tomorrow Contest, marked the start of significant investment in the world of poultry production. What was then a 3 billion dollar industry with chickens bred for “plumper thighs” has now grown into a $48.3 billion dollar industry, where chickens are bred for rapid growth leading to the conditions we see today:  CHICKENS ARE THE MOST FACTORY-FARMED LAND ANIMAL ON EARTH. But they didn’t use to be. According to PEW Trusts, in 1950, more than 1.6 million farms grew chickens for American consumers. By 2007, 98 percent of those farms were gone, and Americans were eating even more chicken. Broiler sales jumped by 8 billion birds (1,400%), meaning nearly all of them were raised on a factory farm. 

The U.S. chicken market is now largely controlled by four companies—Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s (JBS), Sanderson Farms, and Perdue Foods—all of which own and operate large-scale chicken farms. In 2019, Tyson Foods slaughtered 45 million chickens per week within 183 facilities. Being one of the top meat producers in the United States means that production cycles must be fast, animals must be bred in large quantities, and the slaughtering process must be continuous, leading to the increased potential for severe animal suffering and workplace injuries.

Organizations including Animal Outlook and PETA have conducted investigations at Tyson suppliers and processors unveiling severe abuse, neglect, and physiological issues as a result of selective breeding. One worker told an undercover investigator for PETA that, “Yesterday, I ain’t gonna lie, man, I straight up broke one’s back…I hurt an innocent chicken because the other chickens made me mad.”
 U.S. CHICKEN PRODUCTION IS BOOMING. For lack of more elegant phrasing, people want cheap chicken and they want a lot of it. Producers know this, and they’ve shaped their supply chains to accompany the booming demand. Fifty years ago, chickens became the first animals to be farmed at a large-scale. At the time, scientists believed there would be no way to continue feeding animal products to a rapidly growing human population without farming animals more efficiently. So they stuck animals in barns, crammed them in cages, and turned the farm into a well-oiled machine.

Today, roughly 25 million chickens are killed for food each day in the U.S. alone. To document the undisputed cruelty within modern chicken farms, Jo-Anne McArthur of We Animals produced Undercover: Stories from a Former Investigator. This short film documents former undercover investigator, Geoff Regier, and his time handling chickens on more than 50 farms and one processing plant for Maple Lodge Farms in Ontario, Canada.

“You stop seeing suffering. You stop seeing individuals. Animal dying alone on the floor becomes just a mess to be cleaned up. Otherwise good people, people with families and senses of humor are doing terrible things to animals because that’s how the system is set up,” Regier states.
 CHICKEN PRODUCERS IN THE U.S. SET GLOBAL STANDARDS FOR ANIMAL WELFARE. Over the past 10 years, large-scale farming practices honed in the U.S. have spilled over into Europe. And in an attempt to meet the steadily rising global demand for chicken, Europe’s poultry production centers have become overrun with factory farms. Although European farms with more than 5,000 broilers barely represent 1 percent of the total number of broiler farms in the EU, they account for more than nine in 10 broiler chickens.

Every year, more than 60 billion chickens live and die on factory farms around the world. They spend their lives crowded into industrial feeding operations where they barely have enough room to flap their wings. Many suffocate and die due to overcrowding. Then, over the course of just 40 days, they reach full size.

After the birds’ accelerated growing period—which can cause heart disease, lethargy, and lameness—they are sent to slaughter. Factory farmed chickens live their lives confined, without access to sunlight, for less than six weeks before they are killed, sent to be processed, and sold by the world’s largest fast-food companies.
Guerin saw some young chicks who had just arrived from the hatchery and already “could only take a few steps and then plop down. They had their legs splayed out beneath them.” Some tried and were unable to walk away as she got closer. “They would be laying there, breathing heavily, eyes closed,” she says.

“These animals have been bred to grow so fast that their hearts and legs can hardly keep up with the pressure from their bulking bodies,” says WAM founder Jo-Anne McArthur. “To some, death comes quickly. Others wither slowly away.”

If factory farming has become the new normal for chickens, and even the highest animal welfare standards aren’t enough, should companies like Perdue be able to claim that they are committed to animal care?  

Read the full story here
Our next session will leave you with the tools you need to develop your personal brand and develop your social profile.

New York Times bestselling author and top web influencer Neil Patel, vegan influencer and producer of The Invisible Vegan Jasmine Leyva, and social media influencer John Oberg will teach you how to harness the power of social media.

Limited tickets available—secure your spot now.
Covering COVID-19
With the worst global pandemic we’ve seen in over a century, it’s more important than ever to make sure the truth is reported in its entirety, not just what’s convenient.

Help us share the facts during these uncertain times and make sure the world knows our species cannot survive if we continue our exploitation of the planet and nonhuman animals.
Kelly Guerin / We Animals
Despite Perdue’s High Welfare Standards, Some Chickens Can’t Survive 45 Days
By: Jennifer Mishler
Reading Time: 5 minutes

As a filmmaker for We Animals Media (WAM), Kelly Guerin has traveled to farms and slaughterhouses around the world to document the life and death of the farmed animals confined inside.

Most poultry farms look the same, says Guerin, easily recognized by their long barns with fluorescent lighting and the noise of whirring fans. But this chicken farm is the first she’s gained access to in the United States—where chickens account for 95 percent of the land animals killed for food each year—and, as she puts it, is “the first with a company name I recognized, who sends chickens to very familiar restaurants.”

This time, a farmer invited her in, wanting to talk openly about being caught up in the supply chain of Perdue Farms.

The farm, owned by Rudy Howell, contracts exclusively with Perdue which slaughters 700 million chickens each year making it the country’s fourth-largest poultry producer.

“[Perdue] calls themselves a family farm, but they’re a corporate farm. They have control over everything out here,” he said.

On Perdue’s website, they proudly claim, “We give our chickens room to roam.” In February, Perdue reported having met its goal of 25 percent of its chicken supplier farms meeting “free-range” standards, which still allow crowded barns as long as there is a way for birds to access the outdoors, however limited.

On the farm, Guerin witnessed what rapid growth in chickens actually looks like and why animal protection groups are pushing to end the practice.

Along with confined environments and overweight birds, culling is a daily reality inside factory farms that, before COVID-19, often went unseen. Perdue is no exception.

As Guerin toured Howell’s farm, she was shown how sick and dying young birds are killed. Farmers often use a method called cervical dislocation, in which a chicken’s head is stretched away from the body, as the bird is decapitated by hand. According to Perdue and the rest of the poultry industry, this is considered an acceptable way for farmed chickens to be killed.

In fact, a reminder to cull animals daily was listed on signs provided by Perdue and posted on the doors of the barn during Guerin’s tour.
The Rise of Factory Farmed Chicken
In the late 1920s, chickens became the first large-scale farmed animals, bred and raised indoors for egg production. The 1948 Chicken of Tomorrow Contest, marked the start of significant investment in the world of poultry production. What was then a 3 billion dollar industry with chickens bred for “plumper thighs” has now grown into a $48.3 billion dollar industry, where chickens are bred for rapid growth leading to the conditions we see today:  CHICKENS ARE THE MOST FACTORY-FARMED LAND ANIMAL ON EARTH. But they didn’t use to be. According to PEW Trusts, in 1950, more than 1.6 million farms grew chickens for American consumers. By 2007, 98 percent of those farms were gone, and Americans were eating even more chicken. Broiler sales jumped by 8 billion birds (1,400%), meaning nearly all of them were raised on a factory farm. 

The U.S. chicken market is now largely controlled by four companies—Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s (JBS), Sanderson Farms, and Perdue Foods—all of which own and operate large-scale chicken farms. In 2019, Tyson Foods slaughtered 45 million chickens per week within 183 facilities. Being one of the top meat producers in the United States means that production cycles must be fast, animals must be bred in large quantities, and the slaughtering process must be continuous, leading to the increased potential for severe animal suffering and workplace injuries.

Organizations including Animal Outlook and PETA have conducted investigations at Tyson suppliers and processors unveiling severe abuse, neglect, and physiological issues as a result of selective breeding. One worker told an undercover investigator for PETA that, “Yesterday, I ain’t gonna lie, man, I straight up broke one’s back…I hurt an innocent chicken because the other chickens made me mad.”
 
U.S. CHICKEN PRODUCTION IS BOOMING. For lack of more elegant phrasing, people want cheap chicken and they want a lot of it. Producers know this, and they’ve shaped their supply chains to accompany the booming demand. Fifty years ago, chickens became the first animals to be farmed at a large-scale. At the time, scientists believed there would be no way to continue feeding animal products to a rapidly growing human population without farming animals more efficiently. So they stuck animals in barns, crammed them in cages, and turned the farm into a well-oiled machine.

Today, roughly 25 million chickens are killed for food each day in the U.S. alone. To document the undisputed cruelty within modern chicken farms, Jo-Anne McArthur of We Animals produced Undercover: Stories from a Former Investigator. This short film documents former undercover investigator, Geoff Regier, and his time handling chickens on more than 50 farms and one processing plant for Maple Lodge Farms in Ontario, Canada.

“You stop seeing suffering. You stop seeing individuals. Animal dying alone on the floor becomes just a mess to be cleaned up. Otherwise good people, people with families and senses of humor are doing terrible things to animals because that’s how the system is set up,” Regier states.
 
CHICKEN PRODUCERS IN THE U.S. SET GLOBAL STANDARDS FOR ANIMAL WELFARE. Over the past 10 years, large-scale farming practices honed in the U.S. have spilled over into Europe. And in an attempt to meet the steadily rising global demand for chicken, Europe’s poultry production centers have become overrun with factory farms. Although European farms with more than 5,000 broilers barely represent 1 percent of the total number of broiler farms in the EU, they account for more than nine in 10 broiler chickens.

Every year, more than 60 billion chickens live and die on factory farms around the world. They spend their lives crowded into industrial feeding operations where they barely have enough room to flap their wings. Many suffocate and die due to overcrowding. Then, over the course of just 40 days, they reach full size.

After the birds’ accelerated growing period—which can cause heart disease, lethargy, and lameness—they are sent to slaughter. Factory farmed chickens live their lives confined, without access to sunlight, for less than six weeks before they are killed, sent to be processed, and sold by the world’s largest fast-food companies.
Guerin saw some young chicks who had just arrived from the hatchery and already “could only take a few steps and then plop down. They had their legs splayed out beneath them.” Some tried and were unable to walk away as she got closer. “They would be laying there, breathing heavily, eyes closed,” she says.

“These animals have been bred to grow so fast that their hearts and legs can hardly keep up with the pressure from their bulking bodies,” says WAM founder Jo-Anne McArthur. “To some, death comes quickly. Others wither slowly away.”

If factory farming has become the new normal for chickens, and even the highest animal welfare standards aren’t enough, should companies like Perdue be able to claim that they are committed to animal care?  

Read the full story here

Our next session will leave you with the tools you need to develop your personal brand and develop your social profile.

New York Times bestselling author and top web influencer Neil Patel, vegan influencer and producer of The Invisible Vegan Jasmine Leyva, and social media influencer John Oberg will teach you how to harness the power of social media.

Limited tickets available—secure your spot now.
Covering COVID-19
With the worst global pandemic we’ve seen in over a century, it’s more important than ever to make sure the truth is reported in its entirety, not just what’s convenient.

Help us share the facts during these uncertain times and make sure the world knows our species cannot survive if we continue our exploitation of the planet and nonhuman animals.

Skamokawa couple face animal cruelty charges

By Diana Zimmerman 

 https://www.waheagle.com/story/2020/08/06/news/skamokawa-couple-face-animal-cruelty-charges/18132.html

August 6, 2020

Wahkiakum County Engineer Paul Lacy and his wife, Daria were scheduled to be in Wahkiakum District Court on Wednesday morning for a preliminary hearing. The pair have been charged with 11 counts of animal cruelty in the second degree and two counts of transporting or confining a domestic animal in an unsafe manner in a case that brought Wahkiakum County Sheriff’s Office to their Skamokawa property multiple times over the course of several months in 2019.

A brief overview, according to reports from the Wahkiakum County Sheriff’s Office:

On May 2, 2019, WCSO received a complaint that several horses were loose in Skamokawa. When deputies responded, they found a small pig standing atop a larger decomposing pig carcass in a pig pen that was several inches deep in mud and feces. Nearby in a garage, they found several dogs standing shoulder to shoulder, unable to lay down in a kennel, along with a smaller cage containing more dogs. The dogs were without food and water. Two calves were found without water, and a dozen or more chicks were found without food or water.

On June 8, 2019, the WCSO received a report of possible animal cruelty at a property in Skamokawa.

A deputy found one horse up to its knees in mud and feces. There was an overturned water bucket nearby, and no feed. The horse had swollen knees and had lost patches of hair. Nearby in a horse area, he found four horses with untrimmed hooves and swollen knees. Several of the horses had ribs showing.

Paul Lacy said he had sold about 20 horses and still had about 18 remaining. He said it was not uncommon for horses to not get their hooves trimmed, stating that the Department of Natural Resources does not trim wild horses’ feet.

A witness provided photos of neglect, including a horse with visible ribs standing in a stall in mud up to its knees. A second photo showed a horse with overgrown hooves and visible ribs, and a third photo showed two horses with visible ribs.

On June 15, 2019, deputies and an animal control officer from Cowlitz County visited the Lacy home to inspect the animals. The animal control officer “found them to be in such bad conditions and health, according to her training and experience, that probable cause existed for Animal Cruelty.”

On June 18, 2019, deputies were told about an injured horse. A caller said she had witnessed people loading most of the horses onto a truck, but found a horse with a broken leg in a stall, bleeding out. Deputies responded. They found two horses in a muddy pen, one of which had clearly defined ribs, hips, and shoulder bones. Several pigs were in a large stall, laying in and wandering around in mud, feces, and bones. A horse with a leg injury was found deceased nearby, with what appeared to be a gunshot wound to the head.

On June 21, 2019, deputies returned to the farm. They found a horse with open wounds on its muzzle and face. Photographs were taken.

Paul Lacy said that the horse that had been euthanized had been buried in his back field, and that he had gotten rid of several dogs. He said that he did not want to get rid of any more, as he and his wife, Daria, planned to breed them to sell. He was advised that they would need a license.

Lacy was advised at that time that if he did not continue to improve the care of his current animals, he would be subject to criminal charges.

On June 24, 2019, Lacy said in a missive that he had reduced the number of horses from 18 to two, the number of dogs by five, the number of chickens by two, and the number of pigs by one, with a plan to auction three and harvest two.

On July 3, 2019, a neighbor reported that some of Lacy’s animals were on their property. The Lacys were given a warning. Deputies noted that the two remaining horses appeared to be in better condition, and that pigs were in a newly constructed pen with food and water available.

On December 15, 2019, a search warrant was served by the sheriff’s office in conjunction with the Cowlitz County Humane Society, which seized four pigs, one sow, five piglets, 15 sheep/goats, four ducks, four ducklings, one turkey, seven dogs, and 32 bird eggs in an incubator. Two dogs were found in a room, with evidence that they had attempted to gnaw and scratch their way out. The floor was smeared with feces, and there was no food or water. In the same room, they found a cage containing a duck and ducklings, the bottom of the cage full of liquid feces, resulting in a fetid odor. The animal control officer was heard to say that day that “this was one of the worst cases she has worked on.”

On December 19, they returned to collect the remaining animals, including 10 turkeys, 11 geese, 61 ducks, 42 chickens, one pack rat, and two pigeons. Every bird had a lice infestation, according to the report.

The Role of the Rooster

By Karen Davis, PhD, President of United Poultry Concerns

The family role of the rooster is nowadays less well known to most people than the motherhood of the hen. The charm of seeing a rooster with his hens appears in Chaucer’s portrait of Chanticleer in The Canterbury Tales:

This cock had in his princely sway and measure
Seven hens to satisfy his every pleasure,
Who were his sisters and his sweethearts true,
Each wonderfully like him in her hue,
Of whom the fairest-feathered throat to see
Was fair Dame Partlet. Courteous was she,
Discreet, and always acted debonairly.
Image by RitaE from Pixabay

Rooster as a Symbol of Divine Fertility and Life Force

In ancient times, the rooster was esteemed for his sexual vigor; it is said that a healthy young rooster may mate as often as thirty or more times a day. The rooster thus figures in religious history as a symbol of divine fertility and the life force. In his own world of chickendom, the rooster – the cock – is a father, a lover, a brother, a food-finder, a guardian, and a sentinel.

Aldrovandi extolled the rooster’s domestic virtues:

He is for us the example of the best and truest father of a family. For he not only presents himself as a vigilant guardian of his little ones, and in the morning, at the proper time, invites us to our daily labor; but he sallies forth as the first, not only with his crowing, by which he shows what must be done, but he sweeps everything, explores and spies out everything.

Role of the Rooster – A Father and a Guardian

Finding food, “he calls both hens and chicks together to eat it while he stands like a father and host at a banquet . . . inviting them to the feast, exercised by a single care, that they should have something to eat. Meanwhile he scurries about to find something nearby, and when he has found it, he calls his family again in a loud voice. They run to the spot. He stretches himself up, looks around for any danger that may be near, runs about the entire poultry yard, here and there plucking up a grain or two for himself without ceasing to invite the others to follow him.”

A nineteenth-century poultry keeper wrote to his friend that his Shanghai cock was “very attentive to his Hens, and exercises a most fatherly care over the Chicks in his yard. . . . He frequently would allow them to perch on his back, and in this manner carry them into the house, and then up the chicken ladder.”

role of the rooster
Roosters, Nathanial (left), Nicholas (right) with Karen Davis.

Dr Davis: “They (Nathanial & Nicholas) were found walking together on a road in Greenbelt Maryland, a residential area outside Washington, DC. They apparently had been abandoned and may have been actual brothers. People who keep chickens constantly abandon roosters. They only want hens for eggs, and in suburban areas, local laws do not allow roosters to be kept. It is so sad and infuriating. Fortunately, Nathanial and Nicholas were saved.”

My Relationship with the Roosters in Our Sanctuary

A less happy ambivalence appeared in a soft-colored gray and white rooster I named Ruby when he was brought to our sanctuary as a young bird by a girl who swore he was a hen. Following me about the house on his brisk little legs, even sleeping beside me on my pillow at night, Ruby grew up to be a rooster. In spite of our close relationship during his first months of life, once he became sexually mature, Ruby’s attitude toward me changed.

In the yard with the other chickens, he showed no disposition to fight. He didn’t attack other birds or provoke antagonisms. He fit in with the existing flock of hens and roosters, but toward me and other people he became compulsively aggressive. As soon as I (or anyone) appeared in the yard, Ruby ran from wherever he was and physically attacked us. Having to work in the yard under his vigilant eye, I took to carrying a bottomless birdcage and placing it over him while I worked. When finished I would lift it off him and walk backward toward the gate with the birdcage in front of me as a shield.

There is Always an Underlying Cause for Temperament Change

What I saw taking place in Ruby was a conflict he couldn’t control, and from which he suffered emotionally, between an autonomous genetic impulse on the one hand, and his personal desire on the other to be friendly with me. He got to where when he saw me coming with the birdcage, he would walk right up and let me place it over him as if grateful for my protection against a behavior he didn’t want to carry out. Even more tellingly, he developed a syndrome of coughs and sneezes whenever I approached, symptomatic, I believed, of his inner turmoil. He didn’t have a respiratory infection, and despite his antagonism toward me, I never felt that he hated me but rather that he suffered from his dilemma, including his inability to manage it.

Combat is Unnatural for Roosters

My personal experience with our sanctuary roosters confirms the literature I’ve read about wild and feral chickens documenting that the majority of roosters do not physically and compulsively attack one another. Chickens maintain a social order in which every member of the flock has a place and finds a place. During the day our roosters and hens break up into small, fluctuating groups that are somewhat, but by no means, rigidly territorial. Antagonisms between roosters are resolved with bloodless showdowns and face-offs. The most notable exception is when a new rooster is introduced into an existing flock, which may provoke a temporary flare up, but even then, there is no predicting.

Roosters are Playful

role of the rooster
Pola & Karen Davis I Courtesy of UPC

Last year I placed newcomer Benjamin in a yard already occupied by two other roosters, Rhubarb and Oliver and their twenty or so hens, and he fit in right away. Ruby won immediate acceptance when I put him outside in the chickenyard after living in the house with me for almost six months. In dealing with Ruby I found an unexpected ally in our large red rooster Pola, who was so attentive to me, all I had to do was call him, and he bolted over from his hens and let me pick him up and hold him. I have a greeting card photograph of Pola and me “crowing” together, my one hand clasped over his swelled-out chest, my other hand holding his claw, in a duet I captioned “With Heart and Voice.”

Playfully, I got into the habit of yelling “Pola, Help!” whenever Ruby acted like he was ready to come after me, which worked as well as the birdcage. Hearing my call, Pola would perk up, race over to where Ruby was about to charge, and run him off with such cheerful alacrity it was as if he knew this was our little game together. I’d always say, “Thank you, Pola, thank you!” and he acted very pleased with his performance and the praise I lavished on him for “saving” me. He stuck out his chest, stretched up his neck, flapped his wings vigorously, and crowed triumphantly a few times.

Roosters are Full of Energy and Enthusiasm

Roosters crow to announce their accomplishments. Even after losing a skirmish, a rooster will often crow as if to compensate for his loss or deny its importance or call it a draw. Last summer as I sat reading outside with the chickens, I was diverted by our two head roosters, Rhubarb and Sir Valery Valentine, crowing back and forth at each other in their respective yards just a few feet apart. It looked like Sir Valery was intentionally crossing a little too far into Rhubarb’s territory, and Rhubarb kept dashing at him to reinforce the boundary.

There was not a hint of hostility between them; rather the contest, I decided as I watched them go at it, was being carried out as a kind of spirited mock ritual, in which each rooster rushed at the other, only to halt abruptly on his own side of the invisible buffer zone they apparently had agreed upon. At that point, each rooster paced up and down on his own side, steadily eyeing the other bird and crowing at him across the divide. After ten minutes or so, they each backed off and were soon engrossed in other activities.

Roosters, Hens, and their Social Life Together

role of the rooster
Rooster Lincoln, hen Sno-Pea and chick Luv-Bug I Courtesy of UPC

Roosters are so energetic and solicitous toward their hens, so intensely focused on every aspect of their social life together that one of the saddest things to see is a rooster in a state of decline due to age, illness or both. An aging or ailing rooster who can no longer hold his own in the flock suffers severely. He droops, and I have even heard a rooster cry over his loss of place and prestige within his flock. This is what happened to our rooster Jules – “Gentleman Jules,” as my husband fondly named him – who came to our sanctuary in the following way.

One day I received a phone call from the resident of an apartment building outside Washington, DC, saying that a rooster was loose in the complex and was being chased by children who were throwing stones at him. After two weeks of trying, she managed to lure the rooster into the laundry room and called me to come get him. Expecting to find a cowering and emaciated creature needing to be carefully lifted out of a corner, I discovered instead a bright-eyed perky, chatty little fellow with glossy black feathers.

I drove him to our sanctuary and set him outside with the flock, which at the time included our large white broiler rooster Henry, and our feisty bantam rooster, Bantu, who loved nothing better than sitting in the breeze under the trees with his two favorite large brown hens, Nadia and Nadine.

Do Hens Love Sweet-Natured Roosters…

Jules was a sweet-natured rooster, warm and affectionate to the core. He was a natural leader, and the hens loved him. Our dusky brown hen Petal, whom we’d adopted from another sanctuary, was especially devoted to Jules. Petal had curled gnarly toes, which didn’t stop her from whisking away from anyone she didn’t want to come near her; otherwise she sat still watching everything, especially Jules. Petal never made a sound; she didn’t cluck like most hens – except when Jules left her side a little too long. Then all of a sudden, the silent and immobile hen with the watchful eye let out a raucous SQUAWK, SQUAWK, SQUAWK, that didn’t stop until Jules had lifted his head up from whatever he was doing, and muttering to himself, ran over to comfort his friend.

Roosters Leave a Lasting Impression

role of the rooster
Gentleman Jules the Rooster I Courtesy of UPC

Two years after coming to live with us, Jules developed a respiratory infection that with treatment seemed to go away, but left him weak and vulnerable. He returned to the chickenyard only to find himself supplanted by Glippie, with whom he had used to be cordial, but was now dueling, and he didn’t have the heart or strength for it. His exuberance ebbed out of him and he became sad; there is no other word for the total condition of mournfulness he showed. His voice, which had always been cheerful, changed to moaning tones of woe. He banished himself to the outer edges of the chickenyard where he paced up and down, bawling so loudly I could hear him crying from inside the house.

I brought him in with me and sought to comfort my beloved bird, who showed by his whole demeanor that knew he was dying and was hurt through and through by what he had become. Jules developed an abdominal tumor. One morning our veterinarian placed him gently on the floor of his office after a final and futile overnight stay. Jules looked up at me from the floor and let out a low groan of “ooooohh” so broken that it pierced me through. I am pierced by it now, remembering the sorrow expressed by this dear sweet creature, “Gentleman Jules,” who had loved his life and his hens and was leaving it all behind.

Epilogue: Male Chicks of the Egg Industry who Never Grow Up to become Roosters

The journey from birth to death in the life of chickens follows a rhythm ordained by Nature, just like any other animals’ journey. In the case of male chickens, male chicks grow up to become roosters within 4 to 6 months’ time.

In Nature, a rooster lives up to 8, sometimes even 15 years of age. However, the egg industry, disregarding natural laws, justice, and ethics, systematically kills male chicks immediately after they are born.

Why? Because male chicks do not lay eggs. Basically, they are of no *use* in commercial egg production, apart from a certain number required for breeding flocks. In India, eggs are deemed “vegetarian,” but actually, every egg has two victims – the hen and the little male chick deliberately crushed inside a grinder because he cannot profit the industry. The breeding flocks of hens and roosters are also victims since they, too, are slaughtered within two years of life.

Please watch this minute-long PETA video, according to which, worldwide, around 7 billion male chicks are destroyed each year by the egg industry.https://www.youtube.com/embed/7uw5c5kSVr4?enablejsapi=1&autoplay=0&cc_load_policy=0&iv_load_policy=1&loop=0&modestbranding=0&rel=1&fs=1&playsinline=0&autohide=2&theme=dark&color=red&controls=1&Male Chicks Are the Forgotten Victims of the Egg Industry I Courtesy of PETA

Rooster Luce UPC
Rooster Luce I Courtesy of Laurie Melichar

“Over the years, we’ve had several egg-industry roosters in our sanctuary. In the U.S., they are almost always the White Leghorns, representing the type of hens most used for commercial egg production. They are very nice, friendly birds. This is Luce, who was rescued by UPC member Laurie Melichar. Every year in the United States, a quarter of a billion of these beautiful male chickens are buried alive or ground up alive by the egg industry as soon as they are born. These birds represent 250 million more reasons each year to go – and stay – vegan.”

Dr. Karen Davis

Breaking news: Parent company of Giant Food, Food Lion and Stop & Shop to eliminate cruel cages for egg-laying hens, mother pigs

July 31, 2020

Breaking news: Parent company of Giant Food, Food Lion and Stop & Shop to eliminate cruel cages for egg-laying hens, mother pigs

The company will also eliminate any pork produced through locking mother pigs in gestation crates from its supply chain. Photo by iStock.com

Ahold Delhaize, the company that owns some of the largest grocery chains in the United States, including Food Lion, Giant Food, the GIANT Company, Hannaford and Stop & Shop, has announced it will only sell eggs from cage-free chickens across all its stores by 2025 or sooner. The company will also eliminate any pork produced through locking mother pigs in gestation crates from its supply chain.

This is incredible news, coming as it does from what is the nation’s fourth-largest grocery retailer, with more than 2,000 locations. The company’s new animal welfare policy, which comes after dialogue with the Humane Society of the United States, eliminates two of the most heinous forms of intensive animal confinement in cages and crates. Cages used to confine egg-laying chickens are so small that the animals cannot express natural behaviors like running, exploring or even extending their wings. Each chicken is given less space than a sheet of paper on which to live. Gestation crates, used to confine mother pigs, are about the same width and length of the animal’s body, leaving them with no room to even turn around.

The announcement from Ahold Delhaize is the latest in a series of similar pledges that the HSUS, Humane Society International, and other animal protection organizations have secured from hundreds of major food companies over the last decade, including Kroger, Nestle and Unilever. With our Food Industry Scorecard, we are keeping track of the progress these companies are making toward achieving their cage-free goals.

In addition, we have helped secure the passage of a dozen state laws to end the cruel cage confinement of farm animals, including in Massachusetts where Ahold Delhaize is based.

While cage-free doesn’t equate to cruelty-free, thanks to the headway we’re making, tens of millions of animals will never know the misery of being locked in tiny cages for their entire lives. Let’s take a moment today to celebrate this incredible win for egg-laying hens and mother pigs even as we continue our work to dismantle the cruelty of cage confinement in the United States and abroad.

What’s Love Got to Do with It?

Imprisoned chicken with eyes closed
Photo credit: Vancouver Chicken Save.

By Karen Davis, PhD,
President, United Poultry Concerns

“Share the fact that you are an animal lover.”
– Advice to farmers depopulating their animals.

There’s love and there’s “love.” There’s humane and “humane.” There’s euthanasia and “euthanasia.” There’s euphemism.

According to Merriam-Webster, “Euphemism derives from the Greek word euphēmos, which means ‘auspicious’ or ‘sounding good.’ The first part of ‘euphēmos’ is the Greek prefix eu-, meaning ‘well.’ The second part is ‘phēmē,’ a Greek word for ‘speech’ that is itself a derivative of the verb phanai, meaning ‘to speak.’ Among the numerous linguistic cousins of ‘euphemism’ on the ‘eu-’ side of the family are ‘eulogy,’ ‘euphoria,’ and ‘euthanasia’; on the ‘phanai’ side, its kin include ‘prophet’ and ‘aphasia’ (‘loss of the power to understand words’).”

Speaking of farmed animals, euphemism is the cover-up equivalent of the mass burials of these animals in the ground or the stomach – their “euthanasia.” Call it collusion, conspiracy, complacency or corruption, a pact between agribusiness and the major news media guarantees that the animals will not truly be seen, heard or empathized with. A stock photo or video clip of a piglet “nursery,” a “meatpacking” plant or a “poultry processing” plant does not enlighten a public content to let industry and the media interpret the meaning of these images. See, for example, Meat Plant Closures Mean Pigs Are Gassed or Shot Instead and Millions of Pigs Will Be Euthanized As Pandemic Cripples Meatpacking Plants.

Though current society seems to have forgotten that the word “euthanasia” means, literally, a good death, or to die well – exemplifying a “loss of the power to understand words” – there’s a kind of implicit social agreement that this term can magically relieve us of culpability for inflicting horrible death and atrocity on innocent nonhuman creatures.

Yet there is awareness of the real meaning of euthanasia, as is evident in the fact that we do not call mass-killing, live burial, suffocation, throat-cutting, gassing, paralytic electric shock and the like “euthanasia” in the case of ourselves. Speciesism is not a mere abstract concept. It’s the wellspring of our attitude toward nonhuman animals. It determines the fate we subject them to and our language of justification.

I’ll wager that once the coronavirus news cycle has passed, the sympathetic attention being paid by the media to the plight of “meatpackers” will dissipate. For the animals, nothing will change, since the major media have shown them no mercy, compassion or acknowledgement to begin with. The occasional op-ed or letter to the editor expressing sorrow for our animal victims is overwhelmed by the standardized coverage. An example of the rare exception is Our Cruel Treatment of Animals Led to the Coronavirus.

An article in the Progressive FarmerHard Decisions: How Consumers View Mass Depopulation, in which I’m cited, draws attention away from the euphemistic use of the word “euthanasia” as a synonym for the mass-extermination of “livestock,” focusing instead on how to manage the negative publicity of “mass depopulation.” An industry representative is quoted: “producers should expect to see visuals hitting the news and social media that will be shocking.”

Actually, this prediction is what has not happened. Farmers needn’t worry that the major news media will blow their cover. Or that “visuals,” if shown, would shock a public worried about having enough “meat” on the table – a worry amped up by the media. As for social media, these outlets seem mainly to attract those who already care strongly one way or the other.

So what’s a farmer to do? Advises the industry representative: “It’s okay to share that this is an incredible crisis for you and your family just like it is for families all around the world. Share the fact that you are an animal lover and have dedicated your life to spending more time with animals than humans. Remind people you are just one person in a community of farmers all dealing with this heartbreaking reality.”

But what, for the farmer, is the “crisis,” the “heartbreaking reality”? It can’t be what the animals are being put through, since for them a terrible death and its attendant pain and terror await regardless. More to the point, the “crisis” is the loss of income, the “waste” and disposal of animals whose purpose, from the farming perspective, is to become a marketable product.

Imprisoned chicken
Photo credit: Vancouver Chicken Save.

Back in the days when I attended farm animal “welfare” conferences, I used to wonder, listening to the speakers and watching their slides, “Do they honestly, personally believe that the filthy, cobwebby, manure-filled buildings, cages and related contrivances of cruelty to chickens constitute welfare?” To what extent, I wondered, did self-deception figure in the professional deception that relies on euphemisms, including that the captive birds are “happy,” “content,” and “singing,” and that farmers “care” about their animals above the bottom line.

Currently, some animal advocates seek to turn agribusiness adversaries into allies in an effort to change the chicken industry from maniacally cruel to marginally kinder. The ultimate goal of this undertaking is to reverse the business of transforming plants into “chicken” by transforming “chicken,” so to speak, into plants. Real chickens in this remake no longer figure in the plant-based version of themselves or in the cellular meat version either.

This reminds me a little, inversely, of how in ancient Greek and Roman mythology, people seek to transform the goddesses of vengeance and retribution, known as the Erinyes or Furies, by giving them the euphemistic name Eumenides, meaning “the Kindly Ones.” A thing to remember about the Furies, though, is that they personify guilt and the pursuit of justice in the wake of murder and other crimes, so transforming them into “the Kindly Ones” amounts to a euphemistic subterfuge to avoid moral reckoning.

The carefully constructed obliteration of our animal victims from the coronavirus coverage shows how casually we turn our Furies into “Kindly Ones” where other species are concerned. In this instance, “the Kindly Ones” function as a disabled conscience. With our words of commission and omission we muzzle our guilt – the condition of guilt we refuse to feel. The animals are being euthanized – put to sleep – so we can rest easy and return to normal.

https://upc-online.org/slaughter/200519_whats_love_got_to_do_with_it.html

“Hard Decisions: How Consumers View Mass Depopulation,” Progressive Farmer,

 May 4, 2020

“Many opposed to animal agriculture are vigorously attacking the idea of euthanasia of livestock, hoping awareness created now of how production animals are depopulated will move forward their agendas in the years to come. Karen Davis, president of Virginia’s United Poultry Concerns (UPC) told this reporter she is vehemently opposed to even the use of the word ‘euthanasia’ in response to the current situation.”

Read the article here:
How Consumers View Mass Depopulation.

This article reflects aspects of a phone interview with UPC president, Karen Davis, conducted by Progressive Farmer reporter Victoria G. Myers, on April 29, 2020. The interview was prompted by UPC’s News Release:

“Depopulation” of Poultry Does Not Mean “Humanely Killed.”

The article shifts focus to how farmers and ranchers view mass depopulation, and how farmers should manage public perception with stories about their suffering, including sharing that “you are an animal lover.”

Chickens in trash dead and alive.
Unwanted chickens are “euthanized” routinely by the poultry & egg industries.
Photo by Mercy For Animals

Hindustan Times Article Supports International Respect for Chickens Day!

Hindustan Times, a leading national news daily in India, has published an article in the May 2 edition, It is time to rethink the way humans treat animals.

From the moment they are born, these birds spend all their lives in total confinement. 
      Broiler chickens are born in large incubators with hundreds of others; crammed into small, often filthy spaces
From the moment they are born, these birds spend all their lives in total confinement. Broiler chickens are born in large incubators with hundreds of others; crammed into small, often filthy spaces. (Pratik Chorge/HT Photo)

https://upc-online.org/respect/200503_hindustan_times_article_supports_international_respect_for_chickens_day.html

The article begins:

“On May 4 each year, since 2005, a non-profit in the United States (US) called United Poultry Concerns celebrates International Respect for Chickens Day. It spreads the message that we need to rethink how we treat all food animals, especially chickens, since poultry is the most consumed meat in the world.

“The rest of the world needs to join them in celebrating May 4 as International Chicken Day. . . .”

Read the full article here: It is time to rethink the way humans treat animals.

Unfortunately, the article does not promote a plant-based alternative to chicken consumption, even suggesting that chickens “sacrifice” themselves for low-cost animal protein. Fortunately, the writer emphasizes the suffering, sensitivity and intelligence of chickens, and we are grateful for that.

UPC thanks Vegan India for bringing this timely coverage to our attention.

To learn more about International Respect for Chickens Day & how YOU can help chickens in May and every day, visit:

International Respect for Chickens Day

2 million chickens will be killed in Delaware and Maryland because of lack of employees at processing plants

https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/25/us/chickens-depopulated-delmarva-plants-delaware-maryland/index.html

By Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, CNN

(CNN)Two million chickens on several farms in Delaware and Maryland will be “depopulated” — meaning humanely killed — due to a lack of employees at chicken processing plants, according to a statement from Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc.

The reduced employee attendance at the company’s plants is a result of “additional community cases of COVID-19, additional testing, and people practicing the ‘stay home if you’re sick’ social distancing guidance from public health officials,” the statement reads.
The chickens will be depopulated “using approved, humane methods” that are accepted by the American Veterinary Medical Association and all state and local guidelines, the company said.
CNN has reached out to the Delaware Department of Agriculture but has not yet received a response.
The Maryland Department of Agriculture says it learned of the company’s plans on April 9 and “continues to monitor for any developments.”
“MDA is only involved in depopulations when it is done in response to animal health concerns,” the department said in a statement. “This particular case was a private decision made by an individual business.”
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Delmarva says it made the “difficult but necessary” decision after exhausting “the study of other alternatives, including allowing another chicken company to transport and process the chickens and taking a partially processed product to rendering facilities to utilize for other animal feed.”
“If no action were taken, the birds would outgrow the capacity of the chicken house to hold them,” the company said, adding that they are not closing any processing plants and will continue to compensate the affected chicken growers.
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There’s a Bigger, Scarier Public Health Crisis Skulking Behind COVID-19

ttps://www.peta.org/blog/wet-markets-factory-farms/
Published  by Katherine Sullivan.

Can you tell the difference between these scared chickens in cramped, filthy cages …

chickens wet market

… and these forced to live alongside dead and dying cagemates?

chickens small cage dead cagemates

The chickens directly above were kept at a filthy egg factory farm in Oklahoma, while the ones above them were being sold at a blood-soaked “wet market” in Thailand—not that there’s much difference. And all these birds suffered immensely—slaughtered chickens at a wet market in the Philippines …

Vendor chops newly-delivered chicken carcasses at a wet market in Taipei.© Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

… and birds at a Tyson Foods slaughterhouse, whose throats were manually cut by a worker because the mechanical blade missed them:

covid-19 slaughterhouse concerns

It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about a wet market, a traditional factory farm, a “free-range” farm, an “organic” farm, or any other animal agriculture operation—humans’ appetite for flesh and other animal-derived foods is killing more than the meat industry’s intended victims.

Wet Markets vs. Factory Farms: Which Are Worse?

Most people are now familiar with wet markets (also sometimes referred to as “live-animal markets”)—one where live and dead animals are sold for human consumption—and their connection to the dry cough heard ’round the world. Experts believe that the novel coronavirus originated at a wet market in Wuhan, China. But while bats and pangolins (who hitch rides on their mothers’ tails as pups in nature) are the suspected reservoir species for COVID-19, deadly outbreaks like mad cow disease, avian flu, swine flu, and other zoonotic diseases have stemmed from farming domesticated (not wild or exotic) animals for food. Even more recent than the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. is an avian flu (aka “bird flu”) outbreak in South Carolina—a week ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirmed that highly pathogenic H7N3 avian influenza was identified among turkeys being raised for food. This strain reportedly mutated from a low pathogenic strain that had been previously identified in poultry in the same area.

JUST BECAUSE YOU DON’T SHOP AT A WET MARKET DOESN’T MEAN THAT YOU’RE SAFE FROM ZOONOTIC VIRUSES … OR ANTIBIOTIC-RESISTANT BACTERIA.

Farms crammed full of stressed animals are breeding grounds for deadly pathogens, including influenza viruses, which have originated in chickens and pigs. It’s these crowded, filthy conditions that breed antibiotic-resistant bacteria, too, also known as “superbugs.”

Why should you care about antibiotic-resistant bacteria?

When you get sick, the antibiotics prescribed by your doctor may not work because of the emergence of superbugs. On farms across the U.S., the antibiotics that we depend on to treat human infections are now used to keep cows, pigs, chickens, and others alive in horrific conditions that would otherwise kill them and to fatten them before slaughter.

COUNTLESS NEW STRAINS OF ANTIBIOTIC-RESISTANT BACTERIA HAVE DEVELOPED AS A RESULT OF THIS ABUSIVE PRACTICE.

Antibiotic use is now more common on farm prisons than in human medicine. Roughly 80% of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are given to animals on farms, who are likely now the largest source of drug-resistant bacteria. Nearly 80% of all meat found in U.S. grocery stores contains antibiotic-resistant bacteria, according to the Environmental Working Group.

raw meat supermarket

Findings indicate that these drug-resistant genes spread more extensively and quickly on farms than scientists previously thought. Researchers sounded the alarm on the meat industry, which has tried to downplay the concerns raised by experts, apparently deliberately putting the public at risk in order to protect its own interests. One infectious disease physician who studies antibiotic-resistant pathogens, James Johnson, likened the animal agriculture industry and its practice of “subverting public health” to the tobacco industry.

What about “antibiotic-free” labels?

Just like “organic,” “free-range,” and “cage-free” labels, “antibiotic-free” labels mean nothing to animals and are misleading to consumers. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) admits that the “antibiotic-free” label is not approved by the USDA and that it “has no clear meaning.” Furthermore, “antibiotic-free” meat is not necessarily free of antibiotic-resistant bacteria: “All animals carry bacteria in their gut, and some of these can be resistant germs,” the CDC website warns.

THINGS FOR ANIMALS ON FARMS—AND FOR THE HUMANS WHO EAT THEM—ARE ONLY EXPECTED TO GET WORSE.

The United Nations has called the emergence of drug-resistant superbugs “the biggest threat to modern medicine.” It’s anticipated that by 2050, antibiotic-resistant bacteria will kill one person every three seconds. In fact, some studies claim that by this time, more people will be dying of antibiotic-resistant diseases than of heart disease—which is the number one killer of humans in the world and kills one person every 37 seconds in the U.S. alone.

pig cage filthy farm

We’ve already seen these superbugs manifest in the form of global health pandemics. The 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic, for example, only saw humans infected, but the virus included genes from humans, birds, and pigs—it was a “quadruple-reassortant virus,” meaning that it contained genes from four different influenza virus sources. To put it simply, if there were no animal agriculture, it’s likely that neither “classical swine H1N1” viruses nor the 2009 H1N1 flu virus (which reportedly infected roughly 1.4 billion people and killed between 151,700 and 575,400 worldwide) would have existed.

THE ONLY WAY TO AVOID FARM-TO-TABLE PANDEMICS IS FOR EVERYONE TO GO VEGAN AND SHUT DOWN ANIMAL-FARMING OPERATIONS.

So while we should certainly call for a global ban on wet markets …

DISEASE-PRONE WET MARKETS HAVE GOT TO GO

… we should also crack down on all other industries that abuse, neglect, and slaughter animals. We can’t afford to wait for the next H1N1 flu or coronavirus. Please, ban meateggs, and dairy from your plate—before the next deadly zoonotic disease hits:

AVOID MEAT LIKE THE PLAGUE IT IS

Infections are straining meat processing plants

Coronavirus is infecting employees at the nation’s meat processing plants, raising fears of a strain in the food supply.
In Georgia, three employees at a Tyson Foods plant have died from coronavirus, and several others are sick or in quarantine, according to the Retail, Warehouse and Department Store Union.
“Workers debone chickens elbow to elbow with no access to masks. They work at speeds of upwards of 80 chickens per minute,” the Union said.
It accused Tyson of delaying distribution of personal protective equipment to workers, and implementation of measures such as social distancing protocols, protective barriers and staggered start times and breaks. CNN has reached out to Tyson Foods for comment.
And in South Dakota, more than half of the 143 new cases of coronavirus in the state are linked to the Smithfield Foods plant, one of the nation’s largest pork processing facilities, the state’s health department said.