Slaughterhouse Vigil and Egg Farm Visit
Animal Rights/Vegan Activist Strategies Article from

FROM Sandra Isobel Kyle
Facebook posting, December 30, 2021

Please bear witness to our photographs of unfortunate beings in the animal agriculture system. We have to keep working towards a vegan world.

Cow slaughterhouse

It has been more than a year since I have been to the cow and pig slaughterhouse on a working day. We usually do our vigils Sunday afternoon when the animals are arriving for slaughter on the Monday, but on a working day the atmosphere is very different.

As Deno and I approached we could see seagulls, attracted by offal bins, wheeling about and screeching. Workers’ cars lined the perimeter and the green space over the road. As we parked Deno mentioned the strong smell. On a working day it’s much worse, as the body odour of the animals is mixed with odours spilling out from vents where ‘processing’ is taking place inside. The cows waiting for their turn to die must also be able to smell the blood in the air.

‘They look a rough bunch alright’ Deno said, as workers walked by us on their way to their morning break, food in one hand, cigarette in the other. I greeted one of them politely, and asked what his job was. He raised one hand in the air, as if pushing me away, and kept on walking.

There were a couple of large concrete blocks by the fence and Deno jumped up, signalling that he could see into the pens, and didn't need the stepladder. There was a worker in the chute the cows walk up to the killing floor, and a couple of young men in the yard. One was hosing the cows down, the other had the job of choosing the next animal for slaughter and goading them with a stick towards the ramp. I heard his voice saying ‘Get, get…’ from where I was standing across the road.
As soon as he climbed up Deno glimpsed a cow standing next to the ragged sacking at the entrance to the chute, but when the workers saw him they stopped getting animals from the pens to the chute, and both started hosing. One worker yelled at Deno to ‘F#%K off’ and squirted him a couple of times with the hose.

I wanted to spare myself the sight of seeing the animals so close to the end of their lives, and was happy to let Deno do the photography. On a Sunday afternoon the animals arrive tired, bewildered, frightened, hungry, but it's worse for them on a working day. There is so much activity by the rough, uncaring people who bully them, and many loud and frightening sounds. They are also very hungry, and have to watch their friends disappearing, one by one, never to return…..

Our second stop for the morning was at an egg laying facility on the outskirts of Whanganui. I knew this operation still had battery cages, (which are due to become illegal in 2022). They sell eggs from their shop on the premises, so we donned our masks and entered. We said we would be interested in finding homes for spent chickens, who would otherwise be sent to slaughter.

egg farm

The shop assistant seemed taken aback, went away, and returned after a few moments to say they are under contract to a firm to collect the chickens. It was obvious to me that she could find nobody willing to talk to us, but I persisted, and she ended up taking my phone number for the Manager to ring. Somehow I doubt that will happen, but we’ll see. Either way, I’m going to keep trying to get an arrangement with a poultry operation to rehome chickens due for slaughter.

egg farm

As we were leaving we saw workers taking chickens out of crates, holding the birds upside down, several in each hand. I sprang out of the car and spoke to the men. ‘I feel so sorry for them’, I said, tearfully. The younger man was polite and sympathetic. ‘Don’t worry, they’re not going to slaughter, we’re emptying the shed for cleaning, they’re just going to a different shed.’ He explained that the way they were handling them was standard, and the best way both for the birds and for them (!). Knowing he had no authority to allow it, I still asked if I could go into the sheds, and he declined. I wanted to ask if I could take some of these chickens there and then, and I knew he couldn’t allow that either. ‘Can I please cuddle one?’ I asked, and when he nodded I lifted one girl gently from the crate and held her close.

Sandra holding Hen

She was still, and at first she buried her beak in the crook of my arm. I stroked her gently and talked to her while they continued to remove the other chickens from the crates. ‘Please talk to them when you are with them,’ I said as I was leaving.

 ‘Show them that you care about them. They’ll know, they'll feel it, and it will help them’. The nice young man said he understood, and that (despite the constraints on him) he was gentle, and cared for them to the best of his ability.

Please bear witness to our photographs of unfortunate beings in the animal agriculture system. We have to keep working towards a vegan world. 

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