My Generation
On poultry farmers and poultry killers

On poultry farmers and poultry killers

Perpetrators have killed 300,000 chickens in South Carolina over the past two weeks by disarming alarm and ventilation systems. Here, a look at the facts.

Over the past two weeks, 300,000 chickens have been killed on 16 South Carolina farms, stretching across several counties.

On at least one farm, which belongs to W.L. Coker, 200,000 birds were roasted to death. Someone broke into the facilities, disabled the temperature alarms, shut off ventilation and allowed temperatures to reach 115 degrees. Mature birds need temperatures in the chicken house to be 65 to 70 degrees. Chicks live at 95 to 100 degrees.

The details are simultaneously gory and sad. Houses full of dead birds, mounds of dirt where hundreds of thousands of birds have been buried, a terrific stench.

Poultry farmers all across the area are nervous, with good reason. Reportedly, many are standing guard outside their chicken houses, armed. Each of the farmers attacked so far raise birds on contract for Pilgrim's Pride, the nation's largest poultry producer. And clearly, whoever is behind the attacks understands the alarm, ventilation and heating/cooling systems. Think about that for a second.

Think about who would do something like this. Whether or not it's animal rights activists – and not to point fingers, but that's obviously the first thing that came to my mind – the individuals who actually perpetrated this crime had no thought for the animals or the humans involved. He or she or they selfishly cared only for their own opinions and desires. They wanted what they wanted and they didn't care who got hurt.

They couldn't have thought how those animals suffered in their last hours. They couldn't have thought what this incredible loss of income will mean to the farm families, or to the employees of these farm families.

So let's compare and contrast the parties involved here.

The poultry farmer

• spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on climate-controlled facilities

• ensured constant care of the birds

• treated sick birds

• fed carefully balanced, nutrient-packed rations

• installed alarms to alert him day or night if chicken house temperatures waver outside what's ideal for the chicken

• provided for family with poultry farm income

• allowed money to flow back into rural community, via farm family spending and employee income

The poultry killer

• researched which farms raise birds for Pilgrim's Pride and systematically targeted them

• intentionally disabled alarm systems

• shut off ventilation systems

• allowed heat to reach 45 degrees beyond what the chickens can tolerate

• caused 300,000 chickens to slowly roast to death

• effectively cooked animals alive

• caused the farmers involved to lose $1.7 million

So who's more concerned about animal welfare here?

I don't think it's a difficult question.  

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