Chicklett’s Poem and a Letter to the Editor
“Just a Chicken” by Chicklett follows UPC’s Letter in the Concordia
Blade-Empire (Kansas) November 15, 2010 Print Edition.
Photo: Tom Dorsey, Salina Journal
For more about Chicklett and the courageous student, Whitney Hillman, who saved his life, click on:
In response to some confusion about chicken slaughter that is being circulated as a result of the “Broiler Project” at Concordia
High School in September-October this year, I would like to clarify a few points.
First, large industrial slaughter plants do not decapitate live chickens raised for meat, except by accident. Following a torturous trip
through an electrified waterbath designed to paralyze, not to stun, the birds in order to facilitate removal of their feathers after they are
dead and to immobilize them during the slaughter process, the conscious birds are subjected to partial neck cutting by automatic revolving
blades, with manual back-up for birds who miss the blades.
Second, the fastest and least cruel way to produce brain death in birds and mammals at slaughter is by severing the carotid arteries that
supply the brain with its fresh, oxygenated blood, thereby maintaining consciousness. Since the carotid arteries are deeply embedded in a
chicken's or a turkey’s neck muscles, they are very hard to reach, let alone cut quickly and precisely.
Third, the jugular veins carry spent blood away from the brain. For this reason, if only one or two jugular veins are cut, which often happens
because they're closer to the skin surface than the carotids, the bird, whose carotids remain intact, retains consciousness of the slaughter
including the agonizing sensations of suffocating and choking in blood as well as the excruciating pain of the cut neck, trachea and other
parts of the body connected to the nervous system.
What the chickens were forced to go through in Nate Hamilton’s slaughter class on October 11 was not humane, nor was what his students
were forced to go through. Hamilton told his students to “cut the jugular vein,” which actually increased and prolonged the
birds’ suffering, and it was further reported by witnesses that students "hesitated" and shrank from knifing the birds when the birds
flapped and struggled with their feet wired together, hanging upside down, with the feel of the knife cutting through their skin.
There is no more justification, pedagogically or ethically, for a teacher to stage a chicken slaughter project so that students can learn the
reality of “food” production, than there is for a teacher to stage a heroin-addiction project so that students can learn,
first-hand, the reality of drug addiction. It is also wrong (inaccurate and unethical) to mislead students to believe that their only true food
choices are between “factory-farmed meat” and “meat” you kill yourself. People can get as huffy and defensive as they
wish about the need for “animal protein,” but the fact is that animal protein is not necessary for human health and can even be
detrimental compared to a wholesome vegetarian diet. Students have a right to know this, and they should be encouraged by their teachers to
find out more, including the fact that vegetarians eat just as much food as anyone else, so it’s not like agriculture will go out of
business if people go veg.
Karen Davis, President
United Poultry Concerns
Concordia Blade-Empire, Nov. 15, 2010
Chicklett’s poem “Just a Chicken” is expressed through the mind and spirit of his friend and savior, Whitney Hillman,
in memory of the 39 chickens, Chicklett’s flock mates, who suffered and died needlessly at Concordia High School in Concordia,
Kansas on October 11, 2010. To meet Chicklett on Facebook, go to
“Just a Chicken”|
by Chicklett, the baby rooster
You think I have no purpose,
I’m just food for your plate.
I hope this facebook shows you,
Food was not my intended fate.
The world is waking up now,
I hope you will wake up too.
Yes, I am only one chicken,
But you need to wear my shoe.
I hope you learn from me now,
That happy meals and finger lickin’
Do not portray the true reality,
And cruelty toward the chicken.
I don’t deserve to die by a child’s hands,
And my life is not your teaching tool.
I deserve to live as a chicken should,
This “project” does not belong in school.
I hope to change this indifference,
Though I know it won’t change for some.
But my death was not a needed event
To “Know Where Your Food Comes From.”
You wanted us to wear for you
An “identification” head-stamp.
And live within the confines
Of your concentration camp.
When you began to plan this “project,”
Did you ever stop and ponder
That children and chickens would bond,
And their hearts would only grow fonder?
You think that my short lifespan
Makes for a fair debate.
You knew I was genetically modified.
Why did you reenact the hate?
So you think death is a skill
That a child needs to know?
You used me in your classroom,
And let the children watch me grow.
The weekend before the slaughter,
We would like to have been fed.
But you were not the hungry one,
We were just food, you said.
I think you could have taught better,
Taught lessons more humane.
But instead you only contributed
To sadness, death and pain.
I’m asking that you learn from me now,
And read the messages I’ve read from some.
I think it’s time to turn tables on you,
Do you “know where YOUR food comes from?”
You say it was all for “attention.”
I hope that makes you feel better.
But we are seeking change,
And we’ll do that … letter by letter.
You’d like this all to come to a stop,
You’d like the quiet and silence.
But don’t you see? If I do that,
I’m succumbing to the violence.
Whitney believed she had no choice.
She had to grab me and run.
So you sacrificed every chicken,
Every single chicken—but one.
So you think I’m just one chicken,
One less meal on your plate.
But my purpose now is greater,
And that’s a much better fate.
My final message is a gift to the world,
Please open up your eyes.
See finger lickin’ for what it really is,
One giant pack of lies.
For the story of Whitney Hillman and her rooster Chicklett, go to http://www.upc-online.org/classroom/101021concordia_chicklett_rescued.html.