WAYNE CREED Pays a Visit to United Poultry Concerns

Karen Davis with some of her brood at United Poultry Concerns on Seaside Road. (Photo: Washington Post)

Karen Davis with some of her brood at United Poultry Concerns on Seaside Road. (Photo: Washington Post)

Cape Charles Wave

February 23, 2015

My roots are in the clay hills of northeastern Alabama, where for generations my forebears were basically subsistence farmers living on what the land would provide them. Mainly corn, cotton, apricots, and other rotational crops were supplemented with eggs (chickens produced year round). A flock of 100-120 chickens lived outside during the day, pecking the dirt for worms and insects, and in the evening returned to the safety of a fairly large corrugated metal and wire chicken house enclosure. This somewhat bucolic memory allowed me for so many years to perpetuate the myth of “cage free” or “free range” organic chicken farming in my own mind.

I would argue for the promotion of “organic” family chicken farming in Washington, DC, and Northern Virginia (where I lived for 25 years), as well as for expanded operations here on the Eastern Shore. That all changed a year ago. As I was traveling to work in Norfolk, I got behind a truckload of caged chickens. The thermometer in my car registered 18 degrees, and as I stopped at a traffic light, I could see each face, crammed in and waiting. I have never been much of an adherer to James Joycean epiphanies, but this was one. It was a realization that I had been very wrong about the myth of the family farm and the possibility of “humane” chicken farming. No matter what justification I tried to use, Morrisey was right: meat is murder — it’s unnecessary and just not possible to farm animals humanely. The end of the line would eventually lead to a cage in the back of a truck. I told myself I would try to no longer be party to this.

Almost one year later, I find myself on another cold morning traveling Seaside Road on the way to the chicken sanctuary and headquarters of United Poultry Concerns. Karen Davis, PhD, is the president of UPC, which she founded in 1990. UPC is a nonprofit organization “dedicated to the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl” and addresses the treatment of domestic fowl in “food production, science, education, entertainment, and human companionship situations.”


The road to advocating for poultry began when Ms. Davis was a PhD student at the University of Maryland, and was part of the protest against Edward Taub and the Institute of Behavioral Research for animal abuse regarding the “Silver Spring Monkeys.” These protests eventually lead to a police raid, subsequent arrest of the “researchers,” and conviction for six counts of animal cruelty. (This battle was also the birth of PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.)

Wanting to learn more, the already inquisitive Ms. Davis accepted a summer internship at Farm Sanctuary at Watkins Glen, New York. Involvement in the Farm Animal Rights movement exposed the reality of animal farming. With a finely honed voice in analysis and critique (she was finishing her dissertation on Thomas Hardy at UMD College Park), and an affinity for birds, she turned her energies towards the poultry industry, to in her words “become a camera” and document all of it.

While living in a small cottage in Darnstown, Maryland, Ms. Davis started United Poultry Concerns, and also began taking in her first “rescue” chickens. This event led to the creation of the UPC chicken sanctuary, which now houses over 100 birds, including a peacock. Caring for and living with chickens while voraciously reading everything she could about the poultry industry, Ms. Davis began publishing essays such as “Animals and Women: Feminist Theoretical Explorations,” “Terrorists or Freedom Fighters: Reflections on the Liberation of Animals,” “Animal Liberation Philosophy,” and “Chicken-Human Relationships: From Procrustean Genocide to Empathic Anthropomorphism.”

One of the most important aspects of UPC and Ms. Davis’ work is the analysis and deconstruction of the Language of Agribusiness. Davis notes that, using “farm-speak,” animals are referred to as “broilers,” “layers,” “grass-fed beef,” or kept in “veal crates.” Referring to these animals by how they will be eaten serves to de-animalize them, to disengage and abstract them from the violence that ultimately leads to their commoditization — from a sentient, living being to somehow nothing but a piece of meat.

From a Marxist standpoint, it is impossible to discount the consumer capitalist enterprise in which animals are commoditized (trapped, mutilated, and killed). Animals, once they become part of the assembly line, cease to be chickens, cows, or pigs, but just another commodity. Categorizing them as “food products” allows them to be exploited as a “resource.”

For Ms. Davis, this inquiry culminated in her brilliant work, ‘The Holocaust and the Henmaid’s Tale: A Case for Comparing Atrocities.” Here, she draws parallels between the Holocaust and the institutionalized abuse on factory farms. It’s similar to the Isaac Bashevis Singer story, “The Letter Writer,” where he offers anecdotes about the Chicago stockyards: “In relation to [animals], all people are Nazis; for the animals, it is an eternal Treblinka.”

Theory, critique, and analysis are important, but Ms. Davis and UPC hardly exist in a vacuum. Since 1999, UPC has hosted 12 annual conferences on farmed animal advocacy issues. UPC’s Forum on Direct Action for Animals, June 26-27, 1999, introduced U.S. activists “to the strategy developed by Australian activist Patty Mark, of Open Rescues, in which undercover investigators admit to rescuing animals and documenting the conditions of their abuse.” In 2012, 2013, and 2014, UPC hosted conferences in Berkeley, California, on the topic of “Conscious Eating: What is Truly Sustainable?”

UPC, as a member of the Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos, is also at the forefront protesting this ritual. Kapparot, or kaparos, (meaning atonements) is practiced by some Jews shortly before Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. Nazila Mahgerefteh described a Kaparos she witnessed in Los Angeles: “For six days until October 1, morning to night, in front of adults, children, and babies, these pitiful birds are swung around the practitioner’s head. Then the vocal chords are slit so the chicken cannot scream in pain, and then, still alive, the writhing birds are thrown into a plastic trash bag while still walking and looking for a way out of the bag with the head clinging to a cut throat.”

Even as Ms. Davis notes that the alliance is not against the ritual in itself (money and other objects can be substituted for chickens), “We want to draw attention to the fact that chickens are needlessly being subjected to extreme cruelty by (some) Kaporos practitioners, all while numerous health laws are being broken.”

The journey to the Eastern Shore has been a prolific one, yet when talking with Karen Davis, the thing she still cares most about is the birds, especially the ones here on the UPC sanctuary. With a smile, she says she still thinks it’s funny that, after outgrowing her Darnstown cottage, she wound up on the Eastern Shore, right in the “heart of the Perdue and Tyson Evil Empire.”

It is cold out back of UPC headquarters, and it feels like snow really is on the way, yet the birds seem happy and content clucking, pecking, and crowing all under the safe, open, and free enclosure of the sanctuary. As Karen shows me around, relaying stories about these birds (she knows each by name, such as Bisquet, Banya, Rawley the rooster, and Mr. Sippi), they follow us about and you can truly sense the elective affinity between everyone in this place. Watching them interact, it seems so irrelevant to dismiss these birds as not thinking animals, that somehow lack consciousness and don’t feel compassion, camaraderie, love, empathy, and even hate (there’s a rooster puffing himself up, and doesn’t seem too happy to have me so near his hens. I’m keeping an eye on him).

Some things are hard to reconcile. On one hand, mainstream journalism and the media effortlessly build narratives and create heroes for us, whether American snipers or NBA basketball players, while on the other, keeping a profound disengagement from an industry that creates the immense suffering and pain of innocent animals just so that it can stuff our stores with their flesh. After meeting Karen Davis, I feel a slight sense of comfort in the knowledge that there are still real heroes out there, defending and giving voice, as well as political and personal standing to those that truly have none and who deserve the privilege and adventure of a beautiful world as much as anyone.

For me, I kick the cold, hard dirt, look up at the grey sky, and snap a photo of Frankincense the Peacock, realizing I’m still a pathetic work in progress, sometimes falling short at my favorite Cape Charles restaurants.

Although, a funny thing did happen a while ago: after ordering a $30 meal, I couldn’t eat the meat on my plate. I got about half way through, and just stopped. The mashed potatoes and salad wedge, however, were delicious.

Bisquet the chicken -- one of Ms. Davis's favorites. (Wave photo)

Bisquet the chicken — one of Ms. Davis’s favorites. (Wave photo)



32 Responses to “WAYNE CREED Pays a Visit to United Poultry Concerns”

  1. Karen Davis, PhD on February 23rd, 2015 7:42 am

    Dear Wayne Creed and Cape Charles Wave friends,

    I am deeply honored by your kind, compassionate, and informative article about me and United Poultry Concerns, most especially by your sensitive account of the chickens I have come to know and love and advocate for, starting more than 25 years ago. I hope people reading this article will be moved toward – best of all, instantly adopt! – a diet that is animal-free, if they haven’t already. I am truly grateful to Wayne and the Cape Charles Wave for advancing the Wave of Compassion for Chickens and All Animals. May this great wave pour over the entire earth and create a good global warming, the exact opposite of the environmental devastation that now confronts us, and does not have to be.

    Most gratefully,
    Karen Davis and the birds
    United Poultry Concerns

  2. Jeanine Bovens on February 23rd, 2015 9:29 am

    Yes, Karen, you are right, Mr. Wayne Creed has really written a marvellous story. I appreciate enormously the work you are doing as well as the intention of writing articles concerning animals by Mr. Creed. I love animals very much, just like you do, and I want them protected and treated well by all human beings. This is however a great dream. But we are the Voices of the Voiceless and Together we can make the Difference. I’m am on LinkedIn and should like to have you BOTH as a connection!

  3. Susan Bauer on February 23rd, 2015 3:13 pm

    All is forgiven Wayne. I heart you.

  4. Mary Finelli on February 23rd, 2015 3:53 pm

    What a marvelous article! It’s so heartening to read about two people who, instead of conforming to society’s cruel and unjustifiable exploitation of a fellow sentient species, realized the wrongness of it. Both Dr. Davis and Mr. Creed are to be commended for advocating on behalf of these deserving beings.

    Hopefully this article will inspire others to give chickens -and all sentient species- the respect and consideration they deserve. The best way to start is by not eating them. There is a great bounty of delicious vegan food that is better for other animals, for ourselves, and for the environment.

  5. Dean Shifflett on February 23rd, 2015 3:59 pm

    Great story!

    Wayne Creed captures the essence of how humans can learn to respect and empathize with sentient beings – of all kinds.

    No animal wants to die. All species instinctively avoid pain, death and threats. The horrific deaths that billions of farm animals face each year is far from the cartoonish, nonsensical, idyllic portrayals of farm animal life, corporate agri-businesses. More accurate portrayals are graphic, violent and very disconcerting.

    Would Frank Perdue give a slaughterhouse tour for TV, and talk lovingly to chickens, as they are scaled alive in the de-feathering bath – to show the compassion Purdue has for the chickens his company kills? Not a chance.

    Perpetrators of animal cruelty hide behind the appeal of gluttony and the approval the consumer will gain, by pleasing others with animal carcass offerings.

    TV viewers are bombarded with the ruse of appeal to basic human needs (food, self-esteem) incessantly, and nothing is spoken about how animals go from farm to fork – which appeals to the viewers’ higher needs of justice and morality.

    As Wayne Creed insightfully points out, animals have been so well characterized as to what marketplace need that they will satisfy, that for the most part, consumers think not of sentient being suffering, but rather, as “nuggets, white meat, breasts, boneless, bucket, legs, buffalo wings, spicy, etc., etc.”

    For those who have seen countless documentaries of slaughterhouse horrors, the ruse simply does not work. There is a reason that slaughterhouses PROHIBIT workers from bringing cameras to the workplace. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfVBsTBNsg0

    “The best defense of democracy is a well-informed citizenry.” Thank you, Wayne Creed!

  6. Mary Britton Clouse on February 23rd, 2015 4:10 pm

    What an inspiring and perceptive article. The work of Karen Davis at UPC has inspired a whole new generation of thinkers who understand that our species must dig itself out of the ethical and environmental hole we are in by evolving intellectually and empathetically. All over the world people are now advocating for the most exploited and abused land animals on the planet, chickens, and the hope is that all animals will benefit from the new consciousness that rejects “profound disengagement from an industry that creates the immense suffering and pain of innocent animals just so that it can stuff our stores with their flesh”. Brilliant!

    Mary Britton Clouse
    Chicken Run Rescue, MInneapolis, MN
    [email protected]

  7. Geri Landeros on February 23rd, 2015 4:19 pm

    Thank you so much for your kindness and compassion. Hopefully your article will open some eyes. You’re another earth Angel in my eyes.

  8. Andy Zahn on February 23rd, 2015 4:25 pm

    With rights go responsibilities. Personally, I am not in favor of giving rights to people who do not carry their own weight. Why should they who live off the government get to vote for candidates who will promise them ever more while taking more and more from the taxpayers and middle class?

    Animals have no responsibilities and therefore can’t logically have “rights”. They should not be treated cruelly and there are laws to try and see that they are cared for properly.

    There are different types of animals ranging from pet dogs and cats which are in truth family members to work animals such as horses, mules, sled dogs, watch dogs, hunting dogs and those producing milk, eggs, wool and other products and animals raised for meat. There are wild animals and many are good to eat and are hunted as well as eaten after being killed by cars. Some wild animals are pests and some do great damage to farm crops while some are outright dangerous.

    We have raised chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys and at one time hogs and with some you can be friendly and others want no parts. Some of our most friendly were the turkeys but one was named Thanksgiving and the other Christmas. We hunted and ate deer, rabbits, pheasants and road killed racoon & possum. We fished, potted crabs and eels and ate and sold our catch.

    Humans require protein and a certain amount of fat. We eat the foods our parents fed us and are not likely to try such as worms or raw clams and oysters if not into it early on. Some cultures eat things we would stay clear of like horses, dogs and cats. It’s silly to be an animal lover. Some are loveable and some are not. Same with people.

    There was a congresswoman from New York City years ago who said that “We don’t need farmers anymore now that we have supermarkets.” Really?

  9. Satish Karandikar on February 23rd, 2015 4:48 pm

    God bless Wayne Creed for this wonderful article!

  10. Beth Moon on February 23rd, 2015 6:51 pm

    I wanted to thank you, Wayne, for showing compassion and not being afraid to open your eyes to the truth. Thank you for helping to spread the word about Karen Davis and UPC, and thank you Karen for all the wonderful things you have done and continue to do for our feathered friends everywhere.

  11. Bussaba Calvin on February 23rd, 2015 9:56 pm

    Wonderful. Thank you for posting.

  12. Cheryl Hopkins on February 24th, 2015 2:42 am

    Dear Wayne Creed,
    Thank you so very much for your excellent article! I was captivated by your personal story and also happy to hear you shine a true spotlight on Karen Davis and UPC Sanctuary!
    Your “realization” account is heartfelt. This article will help spread the message of developing “true” compassion for all beings by beginning with oneself and adopting an animal free diet.

  13. Chuck Gordon on February 24th, 2015 8:33 am

    Wayne Creed,
    Thank you for this wonderful article. The Eastern Shore needs more compassionate, thoughtful voices like yours.
    We love Karen and admire her greatly and are gratified by your terrific article.

  14. Susan Bauer on February 24th, 2015 9:51 am

    It would be difficult to fully respond to Mr. Zahn’s post, as most of it is incomprehensible. However, with regard to his statement that humans need protein and fat, consider that a serving of pork contains 29 grams of protein and 8 grams of fat. A cup of cooked soybeans contains the same 29 grams of protein and an avocado contains more fat than that serving of pork – 12 grams. Moreover, a plant based diet is essentially devoid of the unhealthy fat and cholesterol that is linked to liver and heart disease. I am not conversant with the nutritional value of “worms,” and would not consider them part of a vegetarian diet either. Even if you are not a “silly animal lover,” perhaps the recent announcement from the United Nations, urging a global shift to veganism, to alleviate world hunger, poverty, and the worst impacts of climate change might persuade you to re-evaluate eating animals. Truly, any of us who have children and care deeply about the world they will inherit, should give this issue serious and soul searching consideration.

  15. Debra Gordon on February 24th, 2015 10:34 am

    To animal lovers everywhere, thank you for your courage in standing up for the sentience of all beings. To Karen, thank you for your extreme courage in the face of an industry that makes chickens nothing but nuggets, and stupid. You are my hero. Thank you Wayne Creed for this article of compassion and insightful intelligence.

  16. Margo Miller on February 24th, 2015 12:55 pm

    Thanks to Mr. Creed for this fabulous article, to Dr. Davis for her work and to those who shared their intelligent and insightful comments above which are “pro-animal!”

  17. Veda Stram on February 24th, 2015 1:10 pm

    Thank you Wayne for visiting the sanctuary and writing this great piece about Karen’s work, dedication and intellectual brilliance. And keep remembering how you felt looking in the eyes of each and every bird you met during that visit and soon, you WILL be vegan. Vegan for 26 years now, I promise you it’s delicious, easy, marvelous, comforting and just GREAT! Keep us posted on your vegan adventure.

  18. Kimberley Richardson on February 24th, 2015 2:53 pm

    Karen is a hero of mine for not only caring about poultry but also opening my eyes to the beauty, suffering and intellect of poultry and other birds. It is now inconceivable to me that I ever harmed them in any way by eating them or their eggs. I hope that Wayne’s article can get a much wider syndication and open the eyes of other people to the horrors that we unnecessarily perpetuate upon beautiful sentient beings.

  19. Randall Cannon, DVM on February 24th, 2015 5:51 pm

    Dear Wayne,
    I was raised to hunt and educated in animal production. It wasn’t until I had practiced veterinary medicine for 8 years that the light went on when my patients showed me the way. If I can turn 180 degrees to become vegan and an animal rights activist, anybody can and I think you are well on your way too. I thank you for speaking up for the animals, for giving them a voice. Good luck on your journey :)
    Sincerely, Dr. Cannon

  20. Sherry Fudim on February 25th, 2015 10:38 am

    A well- deserved praise of Karen Davis whose endless efforts on behalf of poultry (and all animals) can never be understated.

  21. Andy Zahn on February 25th, 2015 11:30 am

    Food was and is a large part of our family life and one of the pleasures we get out of life. Food is used as a reward with children and with pets as well. Lovers give their loved ones gifts of food as in candy or in eating out. All the great holiday get-togethers with the family and friends and the wonderfully prepared turkey or fresh ham or smoked ham with pinapples, cherries and a glaze or a leg-o-lamb, perhaps a roast goose and all the vegetables with a home made pie or cake and now with parents and grandparents gone we still have the great memories.

    At Thanksgiving in the morning the football game with our rival, West Side High and then the fantastic turkey from the farm in Freehold with the dressing, mashed potatoes, rutabagas, our own peas, cranberry sauce, gravy and pumpkin and mince meat pie. In the Army Sgt Card prepared a wonderful turkey dinner with the tables in the mess hall pushed together as to make a family style setting with officers, NCO’s and troops at the same table. I don’t think any of this would have meant much if we all sat around a bowl of soy mush.

    Growing up in north Jersey I was exposed to a huge variety of great foods, most based on meats or sea foods. We enjoyed German wursts and such as sauerbratten & kartoffelglace, We had Italian foods like spaghetti and meat balls, Italian hot sausage sandwiches and Italian bakeries. Jewish food like “dirty” hot dogs. corned beef or pastrami or smoked tongue on Jewish rye and Jewish bakeries. Polish food like fresh smoked kielbasa and kumpkie. Irish food such as corned beef & cabbage and ham & cabbage. Dozens of different sea foods were available including smoked fish & eels.

    Early in life you are not aware of the killing involved in both man and the aminal world securing food. At some point you become aware of death and the fact that all living things die. You become aware of the fact that lions, tigers, wolves, and other animals and fish kill and eat smaller or weaker animals and fish. You learn that for you to have a Big Mac a cow must be slaughtered. Most people leave the dirty work to others, but farmers, hunters and fishermen get to do this themselves. Early on I learned that to have a chicken dinner there was a tree stump with a hatchet stuck in it and a chicken coop full of Rhode Island Reds and now I had to grab a young rooster and do what had to be done. The lady of the farm sold eggs and with her husband had four daughters. The feed companies competed by having the 100 lb sacks of laying mash with nice patterns and when empty, clothes were made from them for the girls. They had a very small piece of land and were on hard times. They raised turkeys and killed all the toms for Thanksgiving and all the hens for Christmas. They also sold strawberries.

    I understand that wildlife needs to be managed and the fish and game departments try and do a good job. An area can only support so many of any given species such as deer or bear, etc. When the density becomes too great the animals do not have enough food and their health suffers. In NJ the bears are a danger because there are entirely too many in such a highly populated area and bears are showing up in the back yards of homes in densly populated counties such as Essex. It is not safe for children or pets to encounter a bear.

    Wayne Creed as usual does a great job of writing and presenting facts. I greatly respect his thoughts and great knowledge. I respect the people who for their reasons avoid eating meat and I would never try to convert a vegetarian to my style diet. I also would like the same respect.

  22. Miriam Jones on February 25th, 2015 1:02 pm

    This is truly an excellent essay — excellent in the sense that I believe that had I read it, way back when I should have been vegan, but was not, I very likely would have changed my cruelty-laden diet many years sooner than I did.

    And that is the highest compliment I can give, because unlike Andy Zahn, I DO have the desire to “convert” animal users and exploiters to the side of veganism, just as, when I was a rape crisis worker, I had the desire to “convert” the women I met from victims into survivors.

    We’re not talking neutral differences here. We’re talking differences that either use or do not use other animals for our own pleasure and gratification. Given that to me, the eradication of speciesism is the single most important thing humans must do — and given my utter lack of true hope that humans will ever un-brainwash ourselves — believing in the power of an essay to change someone’s mind is a strong belief indeed.

    And so I thank you, Mr. Creed, for your essay, on behalf of the billions who cannot speak for themselves, and who rely upon us to do so.

  23. Susan Bauer on February 25th, 2015 1:05 pm

    Of all the justifications given for consuming animals, perhaps the one that rings the most hollow to me is that meat tastes good. Imagine, Mr. Zahn, a species more advanced than ours, that upon a visit to our small part of the universe, discovers that humans are quite tasty, and decides to enslave our species, force us to reproduce, and feature us, and our children. as the main course on their dinner tables. To paraphrase Hanniibal Lecter, we humans might be delicious with a nice chianti and some fava beans. We wouldn’t be cool with that, now would we? In fact, we might try to persuade them of the virtues of “soy mush.” More likely, we would fight to the death to defend ourselves. This is not a matter of “respect” for personal choice. It’s a matter of defending the defenseless, your fond memories of friends gathered around picking the carcass of a poor dead bird, aside. I, too, spent many years eating meat, but I look back with shame and regret, not nostalgia.

  24. Valerie Stanley on February 26th, 2015 10:01 am

    Beautiful! Such an excellent article. I have shared it with my students in the Fall 2014 Animal Law class I teach, a number of whom wrote their papers on farmed animal issues!
    I commend Mr.Creed for his honesty in describing his journey from supporter of raising animals for food to one who questions and rethinks the entire process and then begins to take steps to act on his new thoughts.
    Animals value their lives as much as we value ours.
    The Humane Slaughter Act does not provide animals with a painless, loss of consciousness prior to death experience. And chickens and other birds are not even covered by that law. They are stunned prior to slaughter, yes, however, they are fully conscious while going through the entire process. They cannot move yet they are fully aware. This is a horrible cruelty to inflict on such sweet creatures.

  25. Andy Zahn on February 26th, 2015 10:54 am

    I commend all the people who have given up eating meat in order to spare pain & suffering in the animal world. No sane person wants to see any human or animal suffer but all life must end and in some cases it’s peaceful and in others there is great and prolonged pain and suffering and this includes a great many humans.

    If everyone would give up meat there would be side effects. There always is. Millions of people in one way or another earn a living through the meat industry. The economy is not very healthy and if these people lost their jobs it would be that much worse. So that’s selfish. To have a job. Then if we are permitted to eat eggs and drink milk, what to do with old hens and cows no longer productive? No small number of animals. As always, the males of every species, including human, are worthless so what becomes of them, the roosters, the bulls and the rams? If we want things made of wool what to do with the lambs and mutton?

    Sometimes I look on my field and I see ten and more deer eating away. Young tender green plants just emerging and now nipped to the ground, gone. At times there are 40 and more wild turkeys on the field eating their bellies full. The combine comes to acres of vacant space with the crop cleaned off.

    Besides the animals killed by cars which causes injuries and death to motorists as well, the wild animals if left unchecked will be competing for the very food eaten by Vegans, so do the math. In India they have a religion which is of the same belief as the Vegans, that they are not allowed to kill anything and so they starve as they watch the rats eat their grain.

  26. Karen Davis, PhD on February 26th, 2015 4:50 pm

    I am glad that attorney Valerie Stanley pointed out in her comment that the U.S. Humane Methods of Slaughter Act does not “protect” the animals who are covered by it, that chickens and all other birds are excluded from this pro forma law, and that chickens and other birds are NOT stunned – rendered pain-free or unconscious – before their throats are partially cut during the slaughter process; rather these poor birds are fully conscious through the entire electrified “stun” bath through which their faces are dragged as they hang upside down. The electricity is designed, not to stun them, but to paralyze the muscles of their feather follicles so that their feathers will come out more easily after they are dead, and to immobilize them so they won’t writhe and thrash on the slaughter line as they would otherwise do. They’ve been described by a slaughterhouse worker as trying to hide their faces under the wing of the bird next to them in their state of fear. It is impossible to exaggerate the torture that chickens and other sentient creatures are being put through for nothing.

  27. Janet Sturgis on February 27th, 2015 9:53 am

    Let’s clear a few things up for those who may not be familiar with religious ritual, other than their own. Kapparot is a custom, not a commandment. It is considered by many Jews to be pagan in origin and therefore not acceptable. The large majority of Jews, except for some sects of the ultra orthodox, do not practice this ritual, and there are/have been many in the Jewish community calling for its end. The reason the chicken’s throat is cut is not to prevent it from screaming, but to facilitate as quick and painless a death as possible, and to allow the blood to be drained in an effective manner. The chickens are donated to the poor; the consumption of blood is forbidden in Jewish law.

    During the yearly Islamic celebration of Eid al-Ahda, millions of cattle, goats, and camels are ritually slaughtered and a portion of the meat donated to the poor, a portion eaten by the family, and a portion gifted. This sacrifice is under scrutiny by many of today’s Muslims. In India, the annual celebration of this festival and the associated animal slaughter incites terrible bouts of violence between observant Muslims and outraged Hindu protesters. Cows are sacred to Hindus, and most Hindus are vegetarians. There seems to be a lot of killing in a country where spirituality is measured by the way animals are treated, and the virtues of nonviolence are exalted.

    Animal sacrifice is part of Santeria and can even occur in the observance of Goddess worship in a few Hindu sects. As Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy stated in the decision regarding Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah, “religious beliefs need not be acceptable, logical, consistent, or comprehensible to others in order to merit First Amendment protection.”
    It is no secret that “Kosher” slaughterhouses and meat packing plants have been for years the targets of PETA, so much so they have been accused of fanning the flames of anti-Semitism. There was/is much room for improvement in any and all agribusiness, including our local chicken industry where the growing, slaughter, and processing of animals intended for human consumption is a major contributor to the economy. I am happy to report that these issues are being properly addressed and corrected in “Kosher” facilities. Research has shown that if in the proscribed position and if ALL proper ritual slaughter procedure is followed, including the requirement the animal not be slaughtered in the presence of another, the animal feels no pain. Many of the large agribusiness-style slaughter houses have given way to smaller, more easily monitored and controlled facilities.

    Andy Zahn, I respect and understand your right to eat meat, just as I respect the right of those who wish to lead a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. I was raised in a meat eating household. I am the product of blended cultures, i.e. a mixed marriage. My father was reared in an observant household and my mother on a large southern farm where they grew and raised, harvested and slaughtered, and preserved all of their own food. My grandmother would throw the just-beheaded chicken, the soon to be “guest of honor” at Sunday dinner, under a bushel basket to keep it from running around without its head; apparently chickens are famous for doing this, as are some politicians and many zealots, no matter their persuasion. Some say meat is murder, to others it is killing. There is a difference. Maybe vegetarianism and total nonviolence are the way to personal enlightenment. It is not my privilege to impose my spiritual beliefs on another.

    According to the Bible, if one is inclined to accept its guidance, G-d gives mankind permission to eat meat after the Great Flood, with the admonishment that is must be done without cruelty. This is part of what is referred to as the Noahide Laws, precursor to the more well known Ten Commandments. Apparently humans, in an earlier time, would eat parts of a still living animal, piece by piece until the animal died. The dietary laws handed down were actually an attempt to minimize cruelty, adding to the assurance of ritual purity. They also reiterate a respect for life and gratitude for our being allowed to live, as the Lord has the power of life and death.

    I was and still am a very finicky eater. I was a vegetarian for many years, and prefer to cook for myself. It is no coincidence that my vegetarianism coincided with my dealing with meat packing and butchering facilities. I do, however, understand the need for adequate high quality protein in the human diet. Scientists tell us that increased consumption of meat allowed for exponential development of the human brain as our species evolved. Vegetarianism done properly does, or at least did up until a few years ago, require a lot of do it yourself preparation. My Jain friends, even though strict vegetarians, still include diary, especially yogurt, as an important part of their diet. They do not consider diary cows as slaves to humans. One cares for and feeds a cow; she in return provides milk.

    We as a society must do what we can to insure animals are not subjected to abuse; proper treatment and respect for animals is a must. The FBI now tracks animal cruelty cases, as they have finally recognized that animal abuse and other sociopathic behaviors go hand in hand.

    Gever means both “man” and “rooster” in Hebrew. This, however, does not give license to refer to anything, other than the attempted genocide and successful slaughter of 6 million Jews, or the enslavement and transport of 15 million Africans by way of the Middle Passage, as Holocaust.

  28. Susan Bauer on February 27th, 2015 9:54 am

    Mr. Zahn, here’s some math for you. In a recent University of Minnesota study it was determined that the elimination of meat from our diets could play a significant role in ending world hunger. It was found that 36% of calories that come from crops are allocated to meat production but only 12% of those calories actually wind up in the food we now consume. Moreover, researchers found that if we directly ate those crops, there would be 70% more food available for the world’s population — enough to feed an additional 4 billion people. Don’t even get me started on the meat industry’s destruction of the environment, indescribable cruelty toward animals, and exploitation of low wage workers. There seems to be no limit to the extent to which people will cling to the culture of consuming animals by spewing nonsensical and easily contradicted excuses. Enjoy the view through those rose colored glasses.

  29. Tom Kenny on February 27th, 2015 3:37 pm

    Susan, what crops are growing on the Delmarva peninsula this time of year? I don’t see many avocados growing, nor do I see any fine cucumbers. Shunning meat forces agriculture west and south in this country which will destroy their environment (think California and water). Ever think of the cost of getting that avocado here or the poor migrant picker who is paid dirt because you don’t want to pay $6 a pound for avocados? So instead of the chickens being the victims, with a wholesale switch to a plant based diet the victim becomes the migrant picker.

    There is a reason we eat meat: we are used to eating locally — and that means in most places it’s animal and vegetable. We created the factory farms because we didn’t want to pay $8 a pound for chicken. Farming can be done small scale and humanely.

  30. Susan Bauer on February 27th, 2015 6:59 pm

    Mr. Kenny, I refer you to the last two sentences of my prior comment. Defenders of killing and consuming animals are often left to resort to rhetoric to cover up bad logic. Eat your meat. Ease your conscience. Suspend reality. Just keep telling yourself you are doing it to protect the environment and those poor avocado farmers.

  31. David Kabler on March 9th, 2015 12:16 pm

    Thanks, Wayne, for bringing our good neighbor, UPC and Dr. Karen Davis, to the attention of the Wave’s readers. Karen is one of my heroes as well, for she walks her talk like hardly anyone else I have met. Your article deserves all of the wonderful praise you have received, and I especially applaud your description of your moment of epiphany. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of Dr. Davis and the supporters of UPC, the plight of the most abused animal on the earth is brought to the attention of the many who have the power to change the industry by simply boycotting the purchase of chicken.

  32. Ken Dufty on March 22nd, 2015 8:44 am

    It is Sunday morning and I have just finished my obligatory 3-hour morning stint devoted to diverting the Northampton County Board of Supervisors’ near-maniacal attempt to prostitute what we all know and love about the lower Eastern Shore to please a handful of profiteers. Came across this Wayne Creed article that I missed before and thought it is a magnificent piece of journalism about an equally magnificent and dedicated birditarian (ha!), Dr. Davis.

    As the Board of Supervisors unilaterally paves the way for industrial chicken farming interests (Perdue and Tysons’ collective beaks are salivating) by eliminating lot coverage limits which discourage huge metal chicken houses now — and also including a term, “waste related,” in the proposed zoning ordinance, this article should inspire all to take a more active role in the Board’s ongoing assault on Northampton County residents’ quality of life.

    Our local Resource Conservation and Development District is currently working on a project called “Chicken Litter Incineration” which is aimed at giving the industrial chicken farms a purported solution for the millions of pounds of chicken manure generated annually. One major problem with this solution, besides the obvious, is that these mega-growers feed their birds arsenic to help them grow faster and keep down on rodents. The arsenic is designed to pass through the chicken’s digestive system and winds up in the “litter”. The literature out there says that even state-of-the-art emission control devices are not that effective in removing this arsenic from the exhaust streams of these “chicken litter incinerators,” so the carcinogenic arsenic can be spewed into the atmosphere for public inhalation.

    Northampton County possesses one of the most fragile ecosystems on the Eastern Seaboard, and there is no question that our sole-source aquifer is showing signs of stress. Thank you Dr. Davis and Wayne Creed for shining the light on the plight of these wonderful birds. As my wife and I teeter on the edge of becoming complete vegetarians, this outstanding piece of journalism and Dr. Davis’s commitment to the humane treatment of these superb creatures may have sealed the deal. Hats off and a hearty bow to the Cape Charles Wave for bringing these issues to the forefront.