Lawrence, Kansas – Amber Hansen’s art project slated to be shown at the Percolator Art Gallery entitled “The Story of Chickens: A Revolution” will not be allowed to progress as Hansen originally thought. With plans to draw attention to the slaughtering process of animals, Hansen wanted people to witness the actual process of chickens being slaughtered.
The artist had planned to display coops of chickens throughout the city and have volunteers care and feed the birds. At the end of the exhibit, Hansen planned to show the public slaughter of the animals and then serve them for food. She wanted people to “witness and be mindful” of the slaughter process since it takes place everyday on “a mass scale and the public doesn’t see it.”
Assistant City Attorney Chad Sublet, however threatened the artist with an animal cruelty violation subject to a $1,000 fine and six-months in jail. Kansas anti-cruelty laws make it illegal for “any person to willfully or maliciously kill any domesticated animal.” Chickens are considered domesticated fowl.
While Hansen will not be able to display the public slaughter of a handful of chickens, there are nine-billion other chickens slaughtered for their meat in the United States annually. The birds are raised in an industrial production system where broiler chickens are crowded into poorly ventilated, crowded, unnaturally lighted areas for the five to seven weeks they are allowed to grow and live. Many of the birds have their toes and beaks amputated with no pain killing medication. The rapid growth engineering commonly results in skeletal and metabolic suffering, pain and premature deaths.
When it is time for the chickens to be slaughtered, they are caught by their legs, inverted and tossed into shipping crates. Approximately 1,000 to 1,500 birds are packed per hour. Many are held by one leg in order for the packers to carry a bunch of birds at one time. When birds struggle and flap their wings, many times their femurs detach resulting in slow painful deaths in the shipping crates.
The stress of the noise, motion, overcrowding, lack of food and water and temperature extremes result in many dying enroute to the slaughterhouse. Statistics reveal of the 91 billion birds slaughtered in the United States, between 17 and 41 million birds die during transportation.
And when they are finally at the slaughterhouse, birds are not protected under the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act which means they do not need to be rendered unconscious before they are slaughtered. Most are stunned in electrified water baths, but the process often misses and evidence shows many go through the lines fully conscious when they are thrown into scalding water tanks to loosen their feathers.
“We used to raise chickens on our farm when I was a child,” stated Maeve Carlson of Loxahatchee, Florida. “They would delight in taking dust baths and follow their babies around making little clucking sounds to keep their chicks in line. We’re talking sentient little individuals who don’t deserve to be tortured for their short lives. What Amber Hansen wanted to do may not have been the right way to do it, but it’s about time someone told the story for these little creatures.”