Article: 261276 of talk.bizarre
From: Andrew Solberg <>
Newsgroups: talk.bizarre
Subject: REPOST: Misery Chicken
Date: 1 Dec 1995 01:11:21 -0500
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Status: RO

Can chicken have the angst-nature?

Yes.  Yes it can.

                           - * -

My firm recently got the contract to design a chicken processing plant
for a nationwide poultry-raising/slaughtering company.  I've been working
out the plumbing, heating, electrics and process controls for an enormous
factory, soon to be located in scenic Bryan, Texas, that slaughters about
four chickens per second during peak production.  Factoring in down-time,
this translates to about 7,000,000 chickens killed per year.

During the entire reign of terror of the Nazis, for all the vaunted 
efficiency of their death-camps, Hitler only managed to rack up six million
deaths to his tally.  

Ah, progress.

                            - * -

The chickens spend their entire lives in metal-mesh boxes one foot on a
side.  They never leave these boxes for any reason.  They are fed three
times a day, at the same time each day.  Their food is always the same
and is given to them in carefully controlled amounts. 

The chickens live in these cages for exactly 49 days, no more and no
less.  Why?  Automation, that's why.

You see, Henry Ford's famous production line worked because new technology
allowed parts to be produced at extremely close tolerances.  If a thingit
is supposed to be exactly six inches long, well BY GUM it is JUST THAT!
And if you can COUNT upon your thingits to be exactly a certain size, you
can automate your line to do a lot of monotonous jobs quickly and reliably.
But (oh no!) should your thingit turn out to be SEVEN inches long -- well,
it won't fit over the sproing-bolt, which then won't socket into the 
veeble-rod, and......O, Catastrophe!

Now, chickens aren't thingits.  But -- BUT! -- if you can feed them JUST
SO, and make sure they get NO EXERCISE at all in their little boxes, then
they'll turn out pretty much exactly the same size after 49 days.

Just like thingits.

Because then, see, THEN the machine called, say, "Gizzard Harvester" can
automatically plunge its hooks into the twitching body of a chicken corpse
and retract, one might reasonably hope, having harvested one (1) gizzard.

I like the image of the thousands upon thousands of chickens, each 
permanently torpid from their continually un-stimulated lifestyle, staring
blankly out of their rows upon rows of cages, having no awareness at all
that they are being molded to fit an unpleasant future of conformity and

Sound familiar?

                                 - * -

The chickens are transported from the farm where they are raised to the
chicken processing plant.  They are dropped off in this big bay.  The
wire mesh cages are stacked up like children's blocks.  Sometimes they
fall over and the cages come open.  The chickens fall out onto the floor.

They do not try to escape.  They do not even walk around.  They have 
never walked in their lives; they wouldn't know where to start.  They
stand there, calmly, blinking in the bright lights.  Eventually a worker
might happen by, pick the chicken up by the scruff, and put it on top of
a pile of boxes.  It will continue to stand there until somebody comes
to put it on the evisceration line.

The line is an overhead set of tracks.  Hanging from these tracks are
two loops of wire.  A chicken is suspended here, one foot through each
loop.  The bird hangs upside down, allowing the blood to drain into its
head.  Even now the birds are perfectly calm and quiet.  They might even
be enjoying the fuss.

The line moves at about the speed of a fast jog.  It immediately 
carries the bird past a set of electrified brushes which stun the bird,
although it wasn't moving around anyway.  Then it passes over a loop
that hooks the bird right at neck level (hooray for close tolerances!)
This holds the bird's head stable.  The bird's feet keep moving.  

The result is left as an exercise for the reader.

I should mention, however, that a few birds sometimes make it past
this point alive.  For this reason, there is a man on the line with a
very special job description.  His job title is called "Killer".  It
really is.  I looked it up.

This man stands there with a sharp knife and looks for birds that still
have heads.  If he finds one, he remedies the situation.  Once Killer
has had his say, there are NO live birds on the line.

Sometimes I feel like I'm hurtling down the evisceration line of my
own life, and I have only by strange chance and fortune avoided the
neck-hooks and pitfalls that were ALMOST CERTAIN to do me in.  I keep
nervously awaiting Killer to show up, point me out, and say, "Shit,
we missed one!"

                                 - * -

After the beheading, the chickens pass over a long trough.  All the
blood drains out here.  It's important not to get blood on the nice
clean floor, or (God Forbid!) in the next process, which involves using
superheated steam to scald the feathers off the birds.  The blood
collects at a drain at the bottom of the trough and drains out via
special pipes to a storage tank.  

In fact, the pipes for the blood were the first thing I came across 
on this project.  I was looking over the plans and I saw a line marked
"4-inch line: BL".  "What's BL mean?"  I wondered.  Oh -- Blood Line.

It was then that I knew this project would suck.

A four-inch line isn't small, by the way.  You could fit your forearm
into that no problem; your whole arm if you're not muscley.  To give
you an idea of flow rates, a flood of crimson pumps through those lines
at about twice the rate at which you fill your tub.

Every part of the chicken is used.  The blood and the feathers, for
instance, are shipped off to a pet food company.  They are ground up
and reconsituted and go into Doggy Yum-Yums or whatever the hell you
buy for your critter.  Ditto for entrails, skin, bone, and beaks.

Think about that next time you watch ROAD WARRIOR and think, "Yeah,
maybe Alpo would taste pretty damned good!"

                        - * -

I need to digress and talk about the chick hatchery.

Don't think that being a miserable chicken is confined to the latter 
days of your existence.  No, it pretty much sucks to be poultry from
Day One.  Over at the hatchery building, hatching eggs are dumped onto
a hopper which shakes the shells loose.  The chicks, peeping and
chirping in confusion, are conveyed to a whirling platform lovingly
called the "Chick-Go-Round".  

Here, a small band of doughty chicken workers does a rather nasty thing:
they sex the chicks.  This is the method for chick-sexing:

1) Chicks have only one orifice, which serves both as a repository for
   sexual organs and waste products.  The sexer picks up a chick and
   squeezes it hard enough to forcibly expel all bodily wastes from the
   aforementioned orifice.
2) Next, the sexer grimly places an index finger up into the orifice of
   the chick -- possibly the only member of the animal kingdom to go
   from birth to forcible anal violation in under two minutes.  
3) The sexer feels for a little bud.  If one is present, the chick is
   male.  If no buds are in evidence, the chick is female.  Regardless,
   I feel certain that both genders are thoroughly miserable at this point.

This sexing determines the fate of the chick.  If the chick is female, it
is innoculated using a gun straight out of the STAR WARS F/X department,
and is then deposited in racks.  Hours later it will be whisked off to
a farm, there to spend exactly 49 days contemplating how it got behind
bars.  Attica! ATTICA!

If the chick is a male, it is thrown into a waste bin.  The male chicks
pile up in the bin until they suffocate.  Or not.  Sometimes they survive,
but they're only going to be thrown out so eventually they'll die of
starvation or exposure.  Men, I think we can see the extrapolated end-
result of affirmative action....

I believe they do this because male chicks do not gain weight as evenly
and reliably as do female chicks.  Hence, every commercially bought
chicken you have ever eaten was female.  

A side-note: in Easters past, I have seen some stores selling Easter
Chicks -- real live chicks, painted in Easter Pastels, to be taken home
by kids who think they're cute.  In every case, if you raise an Easter
Chick to its full growth, it will turn out to be a rooster.  Now you
know why.

I am a man.  Squeeze the shit out of me; feel my bud; I am still a man.
Throw me in the trash.  I am a man.  Leave me to die and I will still
be a man, albeit a dead one.  

I am a MAN.

                               - * -

Meanwhile, back at the abattoir:

I don't feel I can do justice to the nasty, grisly business of chicken
processing by telling you about it.  I will spare you this.  However, I
feel obligated to list for you the names of some of the pieces of 
equipment that can be found on the evisceration line:

hock cutter
paw cutter
gizzard harvester
heart separator
liver separator
spleen venter
head scalder
cut-up station
tail remover
lung picker

These devices are entirely automated.  Someday I would like to meet the
man or woman who invented these machines.  

"Hello,"  I would say cordially, "You're responsible for the such-and-so

"Yes," they would answer.  "I am."

"Tell me," I would enquire, "do you sleep well at night knowing that
your contribution to society, your gift to posterity, is a cunning device
that can shear through flesh and bone to remove one tender organ for
the gluttonous diversion of the jaded masses?"

They would pause briefly over their breaded veal cutlet, lost in 

"Yes," they would answer, "I sleep just fine."  

And then they would calmly finish their lunch and leave the restaurant,
leaving me to stare blankly at the remains of the perch on my plate.  I
would cover it with my hands and weep over it, sobbing "I'm sorry....
I'm so very sorry....."

                                 - * -

What remains is no longer very shocking.  The chicken no longer looks
like the living, breathing creature it was a few minutes earlier.  It's
now the pieces you buy at the store or the whole bird you bake in your
oven.  It's not even warm; somewhere in the process the meat has been
chilled almost to freezing to avoid contamination.  

The parts are efficiently shrink-wrapped and boxed.  They are loaded onto
trucks and are distributed to stores across the region.  Average time from
unloading to reloading: just under an hour.  The bulk of this time is used
up in the USDA inspections.

Each plant has its own name.  The plant I'm working on is called 'Miss
Goldy'.  They have developed a little logo for the plant.  It shows a
cute caricature of a chick parading around wearing a sunbonnet, and holding
a parasol and purse.  At our office, some wag took this caricature and
modified it in AutoCAD.  It now lacks its head and hangs upside-down, with
blood spilling from its neck.  This was printed out and posted publicly
with a legend reading 'And So It Goes....'

And so it has gone.  The antiseptic food product you handle in the store
is nothing like the modified Miss Goldy, yet it assuredly came from there.
Is that where we're headed?  Are we destined for a hideous fate waiting
for us just around the corner, and when it's done will people look at
what's left with the same amount of sadness and loss that YOU feel when
you check out the price on a package of drumsticks?  Will our lives be
worth so little when some enterprising undertaker realizes that if the
Purina people will pay for fucking FEATHERS, then BY GOD they'll pay for

Soylent Green is people, yeah, sure.  That's science fiction.  In all
likelihood, nobody's going to eat you.  But who cares? for all you matter
when you're gone, you might as well be food.  At least then somebody
would get a full tummy.  

                              - * -

I want you to try something.

Someday soon, it is likely that the non-vegetarians among you will be
eating chicken.

I want you to get a nice, big helping of chicken on your plate.

I want you to get a hunk of chicken on your fork.

Now: speak to the chicken.  Tell it:

     "Hi.  My name is ______.  I'm eating you.  You're dead,
      but it's okay.  You're feeding me.  You mattered."

Now eat your bite of chicken.

Get another piece on your fork.  Repeat.

Continue until your chicken is gone.

Now go home and go to bed and consider what has happened.

In the morning, get up and continue on with life.

If possible, avoid the neck-hook.

                             - * -

Thank you for letting me cringe at you.

This post is COPYRIGHT 1995, Andrew Solberg.  All rights reserved.
Standard usenet distribution is acceptable; other forms of reproduction
or reprinting may be considered in violation of international copyright law.
Andrew Solberg is HWRNMNBSOL:, Math Dept., Rice U.