Spring-Summer 2009 Poultry Press NEXT
Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs: Bringing the Plight of Chickens to Light

By Karen Davis,
President of United Poultry Concerns

I'm surrounded by file cabinets bulging with manila folders that are filled with the thousands of articles I have accumulated, read and reread over a twenty-year period about chickens, turkeys, ducks and other domestic fowl in the areas of food production, science, education, entertainment, and human companionship situations. Most of these articles were photocopied from the stacks of agribusiness periodicals I began subscribing to in the late 1980s and continue to read and accumulate along with the storm of documents that now appear on the Internet. I therefore acknowledge the assistance of these disheartening but indispensable publications in bringing the plight of farmed animals and birds in particular to the light that I have chosen to cast upon them in these pages.

kokun_and_potpo-circle (35K) Kokun & found refuge at UPC

Hundreds of articles about the poultry and egg industry have been brought to my attention by Mary Finelli, starting when she was a researcher in the farm animal division of The Humane Society of the United States, and continuing to the present time in her capacity as editor of the online news digest, Farmed Animal Watch.

In addition, I am grateful to Clare Druce, my mentor and friend and co-founder of the pressure group Chickens' Lib, which began campaigning for the abolition of cruel methods of poultry-keeping in the United Kingdom in the early 1970s, now called Farm Animal Welfare Network. Clare's 1989 book Chicken and Egg: Who Pays the Price? was the first, and to my knowledge the only other book besides my own, to have dealt specifically with industrialized poultry and egg production from an animal advocacy point of view.

I also wish to thank Patty Mark, founder of Animal Liberation Victoria in Australia. Patty has worked for thirty years on behalf of chickens and other farmed animals. Her personal investigations of factory farms led her to organize, in 1993, the first Open Rescue in Australia. Now a worldwide method of documenting the hidden atrocities of factory farming, it was Patty's presentation at United Poultry Concerns' 1999 conference on direct action for animals which pioneered the Open Rescue in North America. This form of undercover investigation laid the groundwork for the campaigns that have since followed to educate the public about the horrible treatment of animals raised and slaughtered for food in the United States and Canada.

The horrible treatment of chickens was laid out in excruciating detail by former Tyson employee Virgil Butler, to whom chapter five of this book on the death of chickens at slaughter owes much. Virgil's revelations in 2003 led to my incessant questioning of him about the chicken slaughter process and culture. His emails are contained in a three-ring notebook from which I have extracted passages for this book. Virgil gave a riveting talk at United Poultry Concerns' 2004 conference in Norfolk, Virginia that is fortunately preserved on DVD. Virgil died on December 15, 2006. To his authentic voice for chickens and a better world, I am beholden.

Finally, it is my privilege to acknowledge and thank the supporters of United Poultry Concerns around the world, including the editors, publishers and artists of the Book Publishing Company who have made Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs possible. In doing so, I draw attention to the fact that millions of people care deeply about chickens and turkeys and other birds. Through the years, countless people have inspired and educated me with their beautiful stories and photographs of the birds they love. Together with the birds themselves, they are the kindred spirits who keep me going and I can never thank them enough. - Acknowledgements, Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs, 2009

Spring-Summer 2009 Poultry Press NEXT