By Daniel Paden
Recently, on an egg farm in Oklahoma that supplies the largest grocery chain in the United States, nearly 8,000 hens essentially baked to death. In July and August, temperatures in the farm’s massive sheds soared day after day, eventually reaching 106 degrees. Unable to sweat, the chickens panted in a desperate attempt to cool themselves in the stifling conditions. Some had no access to water. It’s a terrifying way to die.
According to a veterinary expert, heatstroke “results in organ damage, respiratory distress, collapse, disorientation, seizures, and death. Heat stress causes immense pain and psychological distress and … agonizing deaths.”
This is just one of the many horrors that you are unwittingly supporting if you eat eggs.
PETA looked into the Oklahoma hen prison — which confines up to 1.2 million hens in 11 massive sheds — after receiving a whistleblower tip that birds “looked like they were rotting alive” there.
Before PETA’s investigation broke, the farm supplied eggs to, among others, The Kroger Co., which sold them under the Kroger brand. (Kroger says that it is taking steps to suspend ties with the farm, but the egg company does operate others.)
As is common in the warehouses where egg-laying hens are crammed en masse, these birds had no place to stand, sit or lie down except on the wire flooring of the cages, which dug into their feet and likely caused them to become inflamed. Unable even to spread their wings or establish a social order in such severely cramped and stressful conditions, many hens resorted to pulling out their own feathers.
These intelligent and social birds were packed so closely together in stacked cages that they had no choice but to urinate and defecate on one another.
Chickens are clean, fastidious animals who need to preen and take regular dust baths. But in these facilities, they’re forced to live in filth.
PETA’s eyewitness found that many hens had died and begun to decay inside their cages. Survivors were forced to coexist with their rotting cagemates for days on end, which was no doubt extremely distressing.
Dead chickens littered the shed floors and were eventually tossed into manure pits, where feces had accumulated in piles up to 5 feet high. In one pit, the eyewitness found a debilitated hen — still alive — amid the decaying remains of other chickens. When the eyewitness reported this bird’s plight to a worker, he said that she’d be dead soon anyway and walked away, leaving her to die.
Over several days in early August, workers at the facility yanked more than 49,000 unwanted hens out of their cages, beat their heads against metal boxes, stuffed them into the boxes and then crudely gassed them with carbon dioxide, an acidic gas that can cause extreme pain.
Hens who survived all that were dumped onto a conveyor belt and then into a truck, where they landed amid massive piles of dead birds. Workers slammed survivors against the trucks, beat them with a piece of wood or broke their necks.
Some hens survived even that — and were left to die in agony, likely of suffocation, under the bodies of other chickens.
This is not an isolated case.
In June, PETA released a video exposé of three egg farms in Abbotsford, British Columbia, showing similar conditions. Dozens of live hens were stuck in mounds of feces teeming with maggots. They had evidently fallen while being moved in or out of the cages and were simply left to die. Many were buried alive in the manure.
Hens trapped in the cramped wire cages above the manure pits fared little better. As in Oklahoma, they were forced to live among rotting corpses. Some were virtually featherless. Ammonia fumes from the accumulated excrement irritated their lungs and burned their skin.
Around the world, billions of gentle hens are suffering in squalid conditions such as these.
Even if you’ve eaten eggs your entire life, you can make a difference starting today by refusing to continue supporting such abuse. With new vegan options cropping up every week, making the kind choice to say “no” to eating eggs and other animal-derived foods has never been easier.
History Talk Looks at Fitchburg in its Gilded Age Boom: “When Samuel Holton Came to Fitchburg” on Thursday, August 23
Free Public Talk Coming to the Fitchburg Historical Society!
The Fitchburg Historical Society will present a free history discussion featuring new research on a family that moved to Fitchburg in the booming 1870’s. It is entitled “When Samuel Holton Came to Fitchburg” and will be presented by local historian and genealogist Sara Campbell on Thursday, August 23 at 6:30 p.m.
Samuel and Samantha Holton came to Fitchburg during its largest economic expansion in the late 1800’s and became successful farmers, political leaders and local philanthropists. Local historian and genealogist Sara Campbell has unearthed original documents that shed light on their triumphs and tragedies, as she traces the Holton family along the Fitchburg timeline.
When Campbell encountered the story of Samuel Holton and his family, she was intrigued about the decision that sent him suddenly east to Fitchburg in late middle age, even though his family had been based in Northfield, Massachusetts for six generations. Why did he uproot his family? What was his impact on Fitchburg? What was the city like for newcomers like Samuel and Samantha Holton?
“Everyone has a story,” according to Sara. “I found that the Holton’s were a fascinating family, a real New England success story. My research makes it possible to ‘get to know’ those who have come before us.”
Sara Campbell has taught genealogical research in Fitchburg’s ALFA program. She is a founder of the Turners Falls Genealogy Gathering, and a member of the New England Regional Genealogical Consortium. She has also taught as an historian in residence in the Erving Public Schools and has published widely in genealogy and Massachusetts history.
About the Fitchburg Historical Society: Founded by James F.D. Garfield in 1892, the Fitchburg Historical Society is an independent non-profit that was created to collect, preserve and interpret the history of Fitchburg. Now located in an historic H.M. Francis-designed building on Main Street, the Society hosts lectures, exhibitions and annual events relating to the city’s history.
This program is funded in part by the Fitchburg Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency. The Fitchburg Historical Society and Crocker Family Center for the History of Fitchburg is located at 781 Main St., Fitchburg, in the historic Phoenix building. There is abundant on-street parking near the Historical Society and free parking behind the building. The building is handicapped accessible.
VA Central Western Massachusetts Debuts $2.6M State-of-the-Art Computed Tomography Suite
LEEDS, Mass. – A recently renovated Computed Tomography (CT) suite debuted at VA Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System’s Edward P. Boland main campus with a goal of decreasing wait times for patients visiting the Radiology Department.
“We see about 60 Veterans per day in all of Radiology, and with this new scanner we will see a decrease in wait times — and an increase in our volume,” said Linda King, Radiology’s supervisor.
Pointing above the newly installed CT Scan, King said an illuminated mural rests over a bed where patients sometimes have to remain still for long periods of time. “We wanted to put the patients at ease as soon as they enter this space, and to make them feel relaxed during the process. What better way to do that than with bright, natural art?”
King said plans for further improvements were in the works, including renovating X-ray rooms, and purchasing new equipment, among other things.
VA Central Western Massachusetts has a footprint of more than 100 miles, with eight sites of care, including Pittsfield, Fitchburg, Worcester, Springfield, Greenfield and the Edward P. Boland main campus in Leeds.
Medical System Associate Director Andrew McMahon said Radiology was just one example of several ongoing initiatives.
“Last fiscal year we invested $12 million — and this year we’ve already surpassed that mark,” he said, adding that the new CT suite cost about $2.6 million to complete.
Ongoing improvements include renovations to Radiology, Audiology, Occupational Therapy/Physical Therapy, construction on several buildings, and broad infrastructure work on the WWI-era main campus, amid myriad other initiatives.
“At the center of it all is the Veteran, our patients, and prioritizing their treatment even as we improve our facilities for them,” said McMahon, who oversees all of the medical system’s facilities.