Berkeley farm kills chickens despite activist protest

Chickens at Urban Adamah. Photo: Urban Adamah

West Berkeley community farm Urban Adamah performed a ritual slaughter of 15 chickens this week despite protests by animal activists. Photo: courtesy Urban Adamah

By Andy Altman-Ohr

Urban Adamah privately slaughtered 15 chickens this week that had been scheduled to be killed as part of a public kosher slaughter workshop on May 4 that was canceled after community outcry.

The chickens, which were no longer laying eggs, were killed by a shochet (kosher slaughterer) in two sessions attended by staff members and Urban Adamah fellows, Adam Berman, executive director of the farm and education center on San Pablo Avenue, said in a statement. Eight chickens were slaughtered on May 14 and the remainder on May 20.

“Unfortunately, we were unable, due to time limitations, to process all of the chickens on [May 14],” Berman wrote in an email. “The remaining few were killed by staff, with the support of our fellows, on Tuesday afternoon, May 20 All of our chickens were treated with utmost kindness and care during their lifetimes and killed in the most thoughtful and humane way we know possible.”

The meat was used in chicken soup and served at Urban Adamah’s weekly free farm stand on May 21. The stand usually gives away produce grown on the Berkeley farm.

“The farm stand is designed for people who don’t have access to healthful food,” Berman said.

The ritual slaughter happened around the time Jewish Vegetarians of North America and United Poultry Concerns launched an online petition calling on Urban Adamah to “release the 15 healthy young hens.” Several weeks ago, those groups helped mount a campaign to cancel the May 4 workshop, threatening to protest at the event.

Karen Davis, president of United Poultry Concerns, wrote in an email that the slaughter “casts an ugly light on Urban Adamah.”

“They may never again use the words compassion, respect, gratitude and reverence for these birds — or any other animal they intend to destroy needlessly — without feeling their stomachs curdle with revulsion and shame that they could so meanly hurt and kill innocent creatures at their mercy,” she wrote.

Continue reading on the website of the J Weekly, where this story originally appeared. 

Activists stop kosher chicken slaughtering class (05.02.14)
Community farm buys 2+ acres in West Berkeley (05.13.14)
Podcast: Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens (07.26.12)
Urban farm Urban Adamah celebrate the harvest (06.17.11)
Faith-based urban farm opens in Berkeley (06.20.11)

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  • Veg Nik

    This was unnecessary cruelty and killing, which violates Jewish teachings.
    Please visit The Veg Mitzvah at

  • guest

    Urban Adamah has used compassion, respect, gratitude and reverence for these birds. I hope they continue to use these words to describe their activities. Who cares what the president of a fringe group says? Not me!

  • guest

    “canceled after community outcry.”

    Was there really an outcry from the community? Or was it just from a small, extreme fringe?

  • DisGuested

    Now that is a Nosh!

  • guest

    Are you seriously claiming that Jewish teachings require everyone to be vegetarian, even though Jews have eaten meat all through our history?

  • It’s too bad they buckled into the original minority “outcry,” but I’m glad they eventually followed through on their appropriate use of the chickens.

  • Skycake

    Chickens are for eating. That’s what they were bred for. If you don’t feel that way then don’t eat chicken.

  • Chaver

    Yasher Koach! It is still a free country!

  • Justizin

    wikipedia says they were originally bred for cockfighting, so i’d say that compassionately killing and serving them to hungry folks as a soup is actually an improvement.

  • Justizin

    yes, that’s what he’s seriously claiming, even though his link actually decries mass production, which is not what happened here.

  • Herself

    Still wondering if animal slaughter is illegal in city limits. Just sayin’

  • chip

    Totally agree. Good for them.

  • James Jack Gaffney

    Sounds like something a serial killer would say –

    “…All of our chickens were treated with utmost kindness and care during their lifetimes and killed in the most thoughtful and humane way we know possible.”

  • bfg

    Berkeley is a place where every whine is considered a community outcry.

  • Rachel Hope Crossman

    A chicken in every pot!

  • Guest

    This is not a news story, and posting it is not in the best interest of journalism. Think of all the places in the universe wherein this headline would not exist, or if it does, would be laughable. Stupid? Silly? Please.

  • ‘Really’

    are, those who cry fowl, vegetarians themselves?, because they must be aware of how horribly mean and painful is the way in which animals are killed, for non jewish consumption….have they not seen how cows are kept? the filth they have to live in? the way in which they are killed? the horrible fear they are put thru before dyeing? Do they not know how commercial chickens are raised? How horrendous is their death? How baby chickens are put thru a cruncher while still alive?? Now, that they should be objecting to.

  • Helen Cagampang

    “the self righteousness of converted sinners” proudly on display in the threats of mayhem to interrupt the ritual slaughter …

  • Paige Icardi

    What a waste of time for protestors. This is not an example of animal cruelty and they should use their brains to figure out how they should properly use their voice instead of harassing a good organization.

  • guest

    good grief

  • Garen

    This does not seem to be a high point in Berkeleyside reporting…

  • PatObserve

    As a quick reference in the US alone we are at about 8 Billion+ broilers killed PER YEAR. [1] That’s 21M+ per DAY (US alone) (!) Easily double+ that for the world.

    These numbers are on a totally different scale than those generating these “revulsion and shame” quotes in Berkeleyside.

    And trust me, the corporations that run these plants don’t treat their poultry or workers with anything like the care of Urban Adamah.

    Understanding where / how your food get’s to your plate is a very important first step in healthy eating. I see this after walking by the lines to popeye’s 3-4 days a week.

    What’s amazing is that educating folks with diverse views / approaches is so frowned on by the so called Berkeley “community”. If this so called community could be bothered, they’d find that larger action to end massive subsidies of meat production at the commercial level and basic health steps around antibiotic usage might do more to help both human health and animal health than preventing Urban Adamah from showing something in public that happens millions of times a day already.

    I’m reminded of republican’s when I see these outcry’s. Let’s hide all this behind the Popeye’s storefront out of sight rather than educating and having a thoughtful conversation about it in public. I say this as someone who significantly reduced my chicken / meat intake after helping on a farm including with poultry processing (CSA).

    I have to say for these hit piece columnists depress me about Berkeley but the comments revive my faith in the Berkeley community! Much more broadminded, eager to engage in the world and laugh out loud funny at times. Please keep it up commentators!


  • chicken

    Yes, Pat. Humans eat chickens. There are a lot of humans, so a lot of chickens get eaten.

  • Shelby

    Kosher slaughter is barbaric. The people responsible should be charged with animal cruelty.

  • Guest

    That’s not going to happen. If kosher slaughter were animal cruelty as defined by law, then many large producers would be liable to prosecution. They aren’t – you’ll just have to live with that.

  • mtaysic

    Not really. We could also change laws. I for one am not going to live with cruelty and violence toward these poor birds.

  • mtaysic

    So you don’t find bleeding to death repulsive? Geesh

  • mtaysic

    Great story. The fact that this guy thinks this humane is so sick. Up there with circumcision. Guess what… some religious practices just have to go.

  • mtaysic

    Not an improvement if they are killed by torture. Not one needs to be eating the energy of that

  • Chris J

    Hey, I did too! “:)

  • Chris J

    It’s not clear to me that kosher slaughter is cruelty-free–no clue, though I’ve heard that the Muslim version (?) is the same scam–a blessing by a rabbi, even if the animals are killed with cruelty or lack of concern, or even if raised in less than sustainable of compassionate circumstances.

    That being said, we as consumers of animal flesh do need to have more of a clue what is involved in the production of the animals we eat, how they are raised, slaughtered, etc.

  • Shelby

    Kosher slaughter is cruel because it is given exemptions from humane slaughtering laws so no I won’t live with barbaric practices that should be banned.

  • PJS

    If you didn’t already know it I’ve got news for you: ALL slaughtered animals are bled to death. Land animals that aren’t bled to death are generally considered inedible. There is nothing more (or less) cruel going on here than goes on millions of times a day in every slaughterhouse. Animals do eat other animals and it is always painful to the one being eaten.

  • guest

    While I hardly eat any meat (<5kg / year), and use very little dairy, animals have a useful place on the farm, turning waste products of vegetable farming into dung, eggs, and meat. Animals can be very effective in controlling weeds.

    The US does eat way too much meat, but it is not because of small farm practices:

  • guest

    Berkeley is often the real-life equivalent of The Onion

  • guest

    If you really want to find animal cruelty in Berkeley, head over to the horse racing track.

  • disqus_S1ql48Vi9i

    The chickens were killed humanely. Why don’t you protesters spend your free time cleaning up the bums around downtown, if you need to make yourselves useful