12 February 2022

A “Super Bowl” of Suffering for Nothing

Republished 11 February 2023

“The chickens try to hide their head from you by sticking it under the wing of the chicken next to them on the slaughter line. You can tell by them looking at you, they’re scared to death.”
– Virgil Butler, former Tyson chicken slaughterhouse worker

Collage with chickens suspended upside down on a slaughter line with Virgil Butler and Laura Alexander

Beth Clifton's collage depicts the contrition of Virgil Butler & Laura Alexander, who wrote: “We could no longer look at a piece of meat anymore without seeing the sad face of the suffering animal who had lived in it when the animal was still alive.”

A “Super Bowl” of Suffering for Nothing

Chicken “wings” aren’t wings, since real wings contain full-grown bones.

An industry article about “more wings from every chicken” explained that “A new patented cut uses the chicken’s scapula bone and surrounding meat and skin to yield six – not four – wing pieces per bird.”

The scapula is the chicken’s shoulder blade – skin, bone, flesh, and cartilage mishmashed into “wings” to disguise what they actually are.


(Ancestral memories in a metal “broiler” chicken shed.)

He sits in this house of feces and pain
With thousands of others
All the same, call it a triumph or
Call it insane.
His eyes are burning.
His liver is leaking.
His legs are aching and lame.
But he will be
Eaten with pleasure
All the same.

His nerves, bones and tendons will be nuggets in a bucket
Chewed by a fan
At a game.
His “wings” (don’t ask) will prove
What it means
To be a Man
Like every other
Man and his brother,

His breast will water
The mouth of a lady trying
To lose weight with this
Lump on her plate.
For this he was made
For supper.

Meanwhile he dreams his
Impossible dream:
Ancestral memories
Of family and friends
Of tropical forest all rainy and green
From which he came
To suffer like this
For a foul mouth of chicken bliss.
– Karen Davis

Modern chicken house in the United States

Perdue Chicken House photo by David Harp