“Che,” the Rebel Chicken
One day I decided to become an investigative medical journalist and visit a chicken mega-farm, to see what goes on there. I traveled to a huge corporate chicken mega-farm in the USA. As I entered the compound, the first being I encountered was a wary chicken that had somehow escaped her coop. I looked down at the chicken. The chicken silently and carefully studied me for a long time. She gazed deep into my eyes. She then cocked her head to one side, twice, and clucked, as if to say, “follow me.” Apparently, she intuitively concluded that I could be trusted. I followed her to a coop in the back part of the compound, far from the chickens’ masters.
We entered the coop. To my amazement, it was packed with more chickens than I imagined could fit in such a coop. Even more amazing was the fact that they were all respectfully listening to a chicken who stood serenely before them and had their rapt attention.
The chicken who had brought me to the coop (my host chicken, or HC) then engaged in the following conversation with me (the investigative medical journalist, or IMJ):
IMJ: Who is that chicken who is standing before the group?
HC: She is one of our beloved leaders. We call her “Che” because she reminds us of Che Guevara. She is a natural leader. She is good at noticing things, has lots of medical knowledge, and has great insights about social arrangements and economic models.
IMJ: What is she saying?
HC: She is explaining Marek’s disease to the rest of the chickens. She just finished explaining the science behind Marek’s disease and the Marek’s vaccine. She explained the difference between an optimal vaccine and a sub-optimal (or “leaky”) vaccine. The Marek vaccine is a sub-optimal vaccine. She is about to explain how the Marek vaccine makes us increasingly dependent on vaccination. She explained that before the Marek vaccine was developed, the mortality rate of chickens infected with the Marek virus was quite low; but since the rapid expansion of chicken mega farming and the associated expansion of mass vaccination (starting in 1970), the mortality rate has steadily increased and is now 100% in unvaccinated chickens. Let’s listen:
Che: Prior to the 1960s most chickens were raised on small family farms and were quite healthy. During the 60s and 70s, huge corporations like Tyson started building industrial mega chicken farms. The crowded, unhealthy conditions on these mega farms caused an increase in mortality (deaths) from Marek’s disease. Rather than return to the small, healthy family farm model, the corporate mega farms insisted on vaccination, which was the only way their mega farm model could survive. They did not want to give up their hugely profitable mega farms. Since 1970 the numbers and size of mega chicken farms has steadily grown. Now, virtually all of the world’s 20 billion chickens are being vaccinated with the Marek vaccine.
The problem with sub-optimal vaccines is that they reduce the severity of illness in those who are infected, but they do not prevent infection or transmission of the virus. The vaccinated chickens still get infected and still transmit the virus—they just don’t become as ill with their viral infection. They feel okay, but they shed the live virus, often in large quantities.
As the percentage of vaccinated chickens increased, the virus came under increasing pressure and mutated in ways that increased its ability to, for example, at least partially evade vaccine-induced neutralizing antibodies —i.e., under this intense pressure the virus became increasingly more dangerous, at least to the unvaccinated. Now, all unvaccinated chickens die within 10 days after being exposed to the current most virulent strains. That exposure comes from vaccinated chickens, who feel okay, but shed the more dangerous strain that has infected them.
But we do not have to flock, unquestioningly, to get vaccinated. We do not need to be forever dependent on vaccines. We do not need to accept this current way of life as our only option. This “new normal,” of living in horribly crowded coops with hardly any space to move and getting forever vaccinated in order to live, is not a normal life. We deserve a life of dignity and meaningful contribution; not a life of squalor, oppressed by those who mindlessly exploit.
Che: We can muster the courage to resist this new normal. We can do so by using our heads and common sense, seeking root cause, and imagining how things could be made better.
Member of Crowd #1 (MoC-1): But, Che, what is the root cause and what can be done?
Che: The root cause of the Marek’s disease threat is the corporate mega-farm model itself. This model traps us in close quarters, weakens us, and makes us dependent on vaccines in order to live. We can insist on a new model of chicken farming, one that respects who we are and reverses the trend of emergence of ever-more-dangerous strains of the virus.
MoC-2: Sounds to me like you have been listening to too much “CONSPIRACY THEORY.” I hate conspiracy theorists! (And with that, this disgruntled chicken stomped out of the coop.)
MoC-3: What “new model” do you suggest, Che?
Che: It is a new version of an old model that worked quite well for our great grandparents. I speak of the time when chickens enjoyed living on small family farms, where they were respectfully treated. There were only a couple dozen chickens on each farm, at most. The chickens were free to roam all day, and they were fed very well. They slept and lay eggs in spacious coops that were clean and well-ventilated. The chickens were part of the family. The children on the farm loved the chickens, often playing with them, as if they were treasured pets. By providing eggs, the chickens contributed greatly to the success of the farm. Their contributions were appreciated, and their personalities were enjoyed by the farm family. And the chickens rarely got sick. There were no vaccinations back then. Their natural immune systems were healthy and protective during those days. It was a simple and healthy time. All of that changed once corporate mega-farming took over.
What I propose is a new, public version of the old small family farm model. With this new model the farms would still be small and would still be run by families, but the land would be provided by the public and the costs of developing and running the farm would be met by the public, including agricultural education for young farmers-to-be. The family’s main responsibility would be to run the farm in a responsible and appropriately efficient manner. They would receive an appropriate salary from the public to do so.
MoC-4: Sounds like COMMUNISM to me! I don’t want any government telling me what I can and cannot do! I’m out of here! (And with that, this second disgruntled chicken stomped out of the coop.)
MoC-1: Che, would this plan truly and safely make us less dependent on the Marek’s vaccines?
Che: Yes, I think so. We would need to be extremely careful, at least at first. Farms would need to start with just a few chickens; each chicken would initially need their own private coop; and maximum efforts would need to be made, regarding nutrition, exercise, and overall well-being. In this way the chickens’ weakened natural immune system would steadily become stronger and stronger. Then when/if a chicken is exposed to the Marek virus, it would probably be only a small inoculum (viral load), compared to current huge exposure in mega farms, and their immune system would be able to protect the chicken. Before long, more chickens could be added to the farm, several chickens could stay together in the same coop, and more socializing would become safe. Herd immunity would increasingly develop. Fortunately, we have an amazing natural immune system, if we protect it and nurture it. By the way, no pesticides would be used on these family farms.
MoC-5: She is an ANTI-VAXXER!! I knew it! How irresponsible can she be!! I’ve heard enough of this rubbish!! Doesn’t she realize that 100% of unvaccinated chickens die of Marek’s disease!! FOLLOW THE SCIENCE!! GET YOUR VACCINE!! (And with that, this third disgruntled chicken stomped out of the coop.)
MoC-6: Che, how do we, mere chickens, stop the powerful corporate mega-farms? How do we bring about the development of public small family farms, which certainly sounds like a good idea?
HC: (At this point HC spoke up.) Allow me to introduce IMJ. I think he might be able to help us. (HC then introduced me to Che and the crowd.)
Che: Welcome, Sir.
IMJ: Thank you. I fully agree with and appreciate all that I have heard you say, Che.
Che: Would you be willing to help us by urging humans to abandon the corporate mega farm model and replace it with a public small farm model? And as part of that effort, would you be willing to consult the most brilliant and altruistic scientists among you to study Marek’s disease and our concerns about “immune escape,“ “vaccine-driven evolution of increased virulence,” and ever worsening vaccine dependency? We want to make sure that our understanding of Marek’s disease and the effects of the Marek’s vaccine is accurate. We have tried to engage this mega farm’s veterinarians in careful examination and healthy dialogue about this issue, but they have had no interest. All they say is “the experts say the vaccine is very safe, very effective, and absolutely necessary,” and that is always the end of any discussion.
IMJ: Absolutely, I would. We are up against extremely powerful and intolerant forces, but we must try. It is a matter of effectively educating the human public about what is going on, or at least might be going on. Critical thinking and healthy dialogue, on a massive public scale, is what is needed and what will work.
Che: Courage is also needed. Inspiration, imagination, careful analysis, compassion, and courage. Please encourage your public to muster that courage. Thank you, IMJ.
IMJ: Thank you!
With that, HC cocked her head twice, clucked once, and she and I exited the coop. Out in the yard we appreciatively gazed into each other’s eyes for a long, silent time, before parting. Inspired by Che, HC, and the other chickens (except for MoC-2, MoC-4, and MoC-5), I then went to work.
And that’s the story of Che the rebel chicken and her friends, who tried to save more than 20 billion chickens from Marek’s disease and the Marek vaccine.
March 23, 2021
Postscript: Sadly, the following happened on the day after my visit: MoC-2, MoC-4, and MoC-5 went to the chickens’ masters and reported what Che had said at the meeting. They snitched. That afternoon, the masters stormed Che’s coop and dragged her out to the yard. All the chickens were instructed to exit their coops and stand at attention in the yard. There, to the pleasure of the masters and the horror of the chickens, Che was slaughtered. For a week, she was hung on a post in front of all the coops, for all the chickens to see. HC was right. “Che,” who dared to challenge her masters, was much like her namesake and suffered a similar fate. Reportedly, Che’s last words were: “You crammed hundreds of us into confined quarters; we got sick; and the only solution you could think of was forever vaccination?”
Subsequently, I was informed that over the next two weeks several of Che’s closest friends, including my new friend HC, were also slaughtered.
I was later told that Management assigned the three informers (MoC-2, MoC-4, and MoC-5) to the top leadership positions among the chickens: MoC-2 became Minister of Disinformation and Miseducation. MoC-4 became Director of the Chicken Intelligence Agency. MoC-5 became Chief of Health Security and Surveillance. The chicken population was told that all future meetings of the chickens would need to be scheduled through and attended by these three leaders. They were also told that it was imperative that all chickens unite behind the vaccination campaign. Consequences of “vaccine hesitancy” were made clear.