December 18, 2005

Opposition to hog slaughter operation mounts

Hog "sticker"
One of the great jobs we're supposed to be excited about.

John Beydler writes a typically well researched and informative post on recent events regarding effort by citizens and others to pry further information about the impact of the proposed Triumph hog slaughter operation from officials involved. (The post has drawn the sort of vacuous attacks in comments from the usual suspect we've all grown to know and love.)

The enormous facility would be build just east of Silvis on Barstow Road and local officials have pledged to spend millions for infrastructure improvement and other benefits for the company.

The QC Times has a good account of recent developments as well.

WARNING: The following is not for the faint of heart. Mass slaughter operations are never pleasant, and I eat an enormous amount of various meats myself and am more than happy to enjoy the products. But the following are very graphic accounts of just what goes on in some slaughterhouses.

A few quotes from interviews with slaughterhouse workers:
"The preferred method of handling a cripple is to beat him to death with a lead pipe before he gets into the chute. It's called 'piping'. All the drivers use pipes to kill hogs that can't go through the chutes. Or if a hog refuses to go into the chutes and is stopping production, you beat him to death."
"Hogs are stubborn. Beating them in the head seems to work about the best. Piece of rebar about an inch across, you force a hog down the alley, have another guy standing there with a piece of rebar in his hand. It's just like playing baseball. Just like somebody pitching something at you."
"If you get a hog in the chute that refuses to move, you take a meat hook and clip it into his anus. You try to do this by clipping the hipbone. Then you drag him backwards. Your dragging these hogs alive, and a lot of times the meat hook rips out of the bunghole. I've seen hams--thighs--completely ripped open. I've also seen intestines come out. If the hog collapses near the front of the chute, you shove a meat hook into his cheek and drag him forward."
"After a while you become desensitized. And as far as animals go, they're a lower life-form. They're maybe one step above a maggot. When you got a live, conscious hog, you not only kill it, you want to make it hurt. You go in hard, blow the windpipe, make it drown in its own blood. Take out an eyeball, split its nose. A live hog would be running around the pit with me. It would be looking up at me and I would just take my knife and--eerk--take its eye out while it was just sitting there. And this hog would just scream.
"These hogs get up to the scalding tank, hit the water, and just start screaming and kicking. I'm not sure whether the hogs burn to death before drowning. The water is 140 degrees, not that hot. I don't believe the hogs go into shock, because it takes them a couple of minutes to stop thrashing. I think they die slowly from drowning."
"I've seen them put twenty to twenty-five holes in a hog's head trying to knock her and she was still on her feet. Her head looked like Swiss cheese. Tough gal. Sometimes they'll use a twenty-two and shoot the hog through its eye. Or you might have to hit both eyes on the same hog."


At 12/18/2005 6:48 PM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

Somehow I'm pretty sure that this plant isn't going to kill hogs by drowning them in hot water.

At 12/18/2005 9:00 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

And your point is...??

I assume you're just nit-picking, but if you're attempting to support the plant, "Hey, they don't kill hogs by drowning them alive in scalding water." isn't a very persuasive argument.

But I too, doubt they'll be killing thousands of hogs by drowning them. I believe that they put them in the scalding water to loosen the skin and hair for removal or some purpose other than killing them. They may not use boiling water at all at Triumph, I simply don't know.

I suppose they'll just give every one of the thousands of hogs a day a nice tranquilizer and a brandy, give them a cozy pen and then inject them with lethal drugs?

Or will they instead stun them, stick spikes into their skulls, hang them upside down from hooks, slit their jugular, bleed and gut them?

I'm not sure, but I'd bet money it's closer to the later.

But I guess as long as they're not killed by drowning....

I kind of figured that it went without saying that these are accounts of what goes on at other slaughterhouse operations. But by writing that these accounts might represent some of the new jobs at Triumph, perhaps it was misleading. I've changed that to plainly state that these are accounts of what goes on at other places.

At 12/19/2005 10:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Perhaps it was misleading..."
- The DOPE

Do you think?

At 12/19/2005 10:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are people who work hard to make sure that animal slaughter operations are run as humanely as possible, certainly the Triumph plant will have U.S.D.A. inspectors present to help enforce Federal regulations concerning the slaughter of animals and processing of meat for human consumption. Hearing that some of the meat is targeted for Japan is certainly a relief as well, because Japan only accepts the highest quality meat for importation.

But the fact remains, if you eat meat you already are supporting the kind of treatment described above - it's a compromise you may not be aware of - but if you enjoy a ham sandwich or a Iowa Pork Chop it's a choice you've already made.

At 12/19/2005 1:05 PM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

What they'll really do is already pretty horrible. I doubt I could stand to watch it done, much less do it myself. There's definitely no doubt that they're nasty jobs.

I guess I just see both sides exaggerating, which always bugs me in politics. I doubt it will be the ultra-clean, ultra-quiet industry that solves all our problems like Triumph promises, but I also don't think it will smell for miles around, cause CAFOs to flock here, increase crime, torture pigs for torture's sake and destroy the QC entirely like PACG and Inside Dope believe.

Its somewhere in the middle, and the EM Council has to weigh the real benefits and real downsides and come to a decision, which it sounds like they have unfortunately already done.

I do ABSOLUTELY think they should hold off the vote until the Missouri plant opens.

At 12/19/2005 1:18 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

For the record, I do NOT think this plant would "destroy the QC's entirely"

I simply think it shouldn't be rubber-stamped and approved without spending more time finding out more about it. In other words, I have the same opinion as QC Images.

I don't know that I'm exagerating anything in providing the accounts from hog plant employees.

If they were false, that's another matter, but they're not.

I said they were representative of the types of jobs which would be at the Trimuph plant, and I still feel that is true.

There's no need to sugar-coat this, and simply pointing out the stark truth of the matter is not "exagerating" anything whatsoever.

I'm sorry if some find such facts disturbing, but the fact is that they are. I don't know why QCI feels they should be out of bounds, however, as I feel they most certainly should be a part of the reality that anyone should be aware of before coming to a conclusion.

Most people are aware of the gory, brutal nature of such operations. I'm not breaking news here.

So I have a feeling it's not the truth that is bothering people, it's just that the truth invokes emotional responses and they somehow feel that's unfair.

I don't.

I would also point out that as QCI observes, the pro-plant side points up and likely exagerates the supposed positives, so why should those who may be skeptical of the plant be held to a higher standard?

In a way, it's an analogy of how the right has beaten the left to a pulp. They use any tactics necessary, while the left holds themselves to a high standard and won't fight fire with fire. And the left loses.

At 12/20/2005 1:25 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

I eat meat, I'm aware of the brutal and gory nature of slaughterhouses. I just not so sure plopping an enormous one down in Barstow is a good idea for the area.

There you have it.

At 12/20/2005 1:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please tell me that we have mooved beyond the old fashioned way that IBP formerly known as ____________formerly known as _______________formerly known as _____________and some other psudo aconym names in the past -- had killed hogs in the past - by having a poor employee stand and hit them on the head with a hammer risking getting his own head punched out by the strong legs of the animal.... that used to be the way and it was cruel not only to the animal but the worker. Today's OSHA may not allow it but IBP never cares about regs -and is always happy to pay fines as it's cheaper for them that way.

I certainly hope that Triumph has a better safer way to kill...but am not convinced at this point.


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