He finally blew the whistle on the poultry industry by bringing in cameras
to show what life is really like in the chicken breeding houses of the Perdue Farms. I
always cringed when I saw Perdue on television hawking his products. I knew that his
chickens were not being treated well, and so I was glad that one farmer had the courage to
finally come forward and expose Perdue's false claims and expose the horrible treatment
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For those who soothe their consciences when buying chickens which carry
labels "natural," "humanely raised," "organic," and "cage-free," Watts said that
these terms are basically meaningless. When asked on Reddit "What does it matter how
they're raised when we're going to eat them anyways?" Watts had a ready reply.
To this very sad, and unfeeling question which all too many people also
probably ask as well, Watt's said: "Well, it does matter. If you've been paying attention
to the news --there's a lot of issues with food borne illnesses with poultry. These
chickens come loaded with salmonella, e coli, and staff (sic). Even if you don't care about
welfare, they're getting
sick because of the ways they're raised. And that is something everyone
should care about....How you treat animals reveals your true character."
Compassion in World Farming videotaped his poultry farm, and from the
background picture one could see a SEA of chickens in this factory barn enclosure with
no place for the chickens to move or go. It made me want to ask people who see nothing
wrong with this picture -- how would you like to be in a crowded place with no place to go?
And worse yet-have to smell the urine vapors and fecal droppings. I don't know how they
handle this aspect of raising chickens but certainly the smells must be horrific for not only
humans but for the chickens as well. And of course, the chickens are not able to walk out
into the sunlight and fresh air. They simply exist until they are sent to horrific slaughtering
which finally releases them from a very cruel life and existence.
People may criticize me for anthropomorphizing, but as far as I am
concerned -- it is simply applying the golden rule which should apply to all living beings. And so
to answer the question of that uncaring individual who asked what does it matter to them
since we are going to eat them anyways -it matters a lot to each and every one of those
hundreds and hundreds of chickens crowded in that airless factory barn from hell because
are precious to them as ours are to us.
Watts also remarked that many farmers would also love to speak out against
the industry but are worried about job security. He places 80% of them in this
category. But he also notes that change won't come until the poultry companies become more transparent
and with farmers being given more control over their farms.
Regarding as to why he had to speak out and go public -- he noted that once
he had -it was like having an anvil lifted off his chest. Is he worried about losing a
contract? No, he says because he is lucky that he doesn't have much debt- unlike a lot of the
other chicken farmers. So, he feels that if he had to fall on the sword to make it better for the
rest, so be it.
The very sad part of all of this though is that Watts' chickens were being
raised according to the USDA's Process Verified program which meant in theory that they were
cage free, fed an all-vegetarian diet, received no animal by products or antibiotics and are
considered humanely raised. Too bad the USDA doesn't make visual inspections of places which
their policies seem to condone.
The film revealed heart breaking conditions: deformed chicks, bellies warn
raw from contact with feces-saturated litter, heart and lungs and legs too weak to support
the oversized breasts, and awful leg deformities. There is nothing remotely humane or natural
about any of these observations.
In another report re chicken raising- Maryn McKenna wrote: There's a lot
of flaws in the system. The consumer's being hoodwinked. The farmer's being jerked around.
As for Watts- he said he would like to do some things to make it better for
his chickens. He would get rid of the walls and let in the sunshine and fresh air. Of
course, his contract with Perdue would not allow this. The chickens in the Perdue system never see
daylight except when being transported in and out of the house.
Someone -after studying the process of raising chickens so aptly remarked --
"It's going to have to be a start-over. We're past rewind here. This has gone too far." And
what bothers me most is what an inefficient and uncaring USDA we have. And then ditto too I
guess -- Congress and
President Obama. If they were more concerned about farm animal suffering
then these factory farms would not exist.
I know that there are some compassionate legislators in Congress. Just
today I got a copy of the HSUS Scoreboard showing how legislators voted on animal welfare bills.
You can also find it on the internet if interested on how your legislators voted.
I am also disappointed that none of the questions posed the presidential
candidates are being queried about their views re factory farms and resulting animal suffering.
And so I was very happy to read this morning on Mother Jones that Tom Philpot also recognized this
omission. His post
title read "6 Things I would Ask the Presidential Candidates About Food
and Farming." I let out a silent hooray. I am not the only one concerned re this lack in
He also so aptly noted that- "Everyone-from the socialist Vermont Jew with
the excellent Brooklyn accent to the xenophobic billionaire reality- TV star--is largely ignoring
food and farm policy on the stump." Why is that? I can only surmize that there are not enough of
us who care enough to make some noise on this subject. And that's truly a pity. But I hope I
am wrong, and that these debate leaders will finally ask questions about a topic which should be
important to anyone who believes that farm animals should be treated compassionately.