An Ingredient or A Being; How a leg becomes a drumstick.
In Australia over 1 million of them will be killed every day. In the US 9 billion of them per year. Chickens are bred, raised and slaughtered at a unprecedented rate, and at this exploding speed we have overlooked a basic part of the equation - the chicken. They have become a thing, an ingredient; void of any needs and looked at instead of a being, more of a cog in a wheel. While we have decided it is OK to take their life when we slaughter them, somewhere along the line as farming operations have become more like factory lines, we have also decided that it is OK to take any joy, and fulfilment of instincts from them. Yes, they are "just" a chicken - not as sexy as a pet dog, or pretty to look at as a horse, or seemingly as clever as a chimp. But they are still living and breathing beings - they too contain the spark of life, and they too can experience joy, suffering, fear and distress.
Broiler chickens - the chickens that end up as meat, rather than egg laying chickens, are generally now raised in large sheds with 10 to 100 THOUSAND other chickens. There is no sun light, no dust to bath in, no way to forage and WAY too many birds to be able to create the pecking order, an strong, natural instinct of the chicken. These artificial, ammonia-stinking, jam full sheds hide from the consumer how their meat was raised with suffering. They also hide that these birds are bred to grow at Frankenstein speeds to get the most meat out of each bird. Great for the producer. Not so great for the chicken, whose legs and hearts often can not handle the rate of growth which leaves them with heart failure or becoming deformed and buckling under their own weight.
To be one of those billions of broiler chickens killed each year in a factory farm would be torture. If there is such a thing as reincarnation, if you are a doing some shitty things in this life, watch out, because you may come back as one, stuck in one of those unmarked white sheds for your short life.
It won't mean you won't have wants or desires - because science now proves chickens do - but you will be denied them all. Because to the farmer and to the consumer you are not counted as a living being. And no one will see you, because your hidden from view, often even from the farmers as factory farms become more and more automated - from air temperature, feeding, lighting etc. Until finally you will feel the touch of someone, but only to be yanked upside down by the leg, shoved into a truck and driven to your death, that you will meet on a fast-paced slaughter line... if your lucky your throat will be slit. If not, you will be scalded alive in the boiling water, after all, that line means money and we can't let the line stop...
Sounds extreme and pretty horrific. Almost sounds like I am an extremist. But the sad truth is I am not.
Time and time again the horrific life of broiler chickens have been documented. It may not be slowing down the speed of our appetite to eat their flesh, but there has been a swell in public opinion that somethings have to change...
Organic free range farmers have found a niche for growing concerned consumers, where the birds are raised in farms where they are able to fulfil some of their basic instincts before being turned into a drumstick. It costs more, but without hesitation I recommend this option if you are going to eat chicken.
Even big US brands; Qdoba, Burger King, Chipotle, Panera Bread, and Pret A Manger chains have made detailed public commitments for improving the welfare of chickens in their supply chains, and other massive food companies, including Aramark, Compass Group, and Sodexo have joined them. They are small steps but they are in the right direction.
- transitioning to strains of birds with improved welfare outcomes
- reducing maximum stocking density
- improved living conditions such as improved lighting, litter, and enrichments
- a controlled-atmosphere processing method for slaughter
- Lastly, the companies much demonstrate compliance to these standards via a third-party auditing system.
When large companies are committing to even small changes like this, we need to stand up and use our voice to help with the traction of the movement, as the increased pressure can help cement changes for the better across the board. Mercy for Animals are currently running a campaign to get Moe's Southwest Grill to commit to join the other big companies with better welfare standards for their broiler chickens. I urge you to too. And to stop and think next time you eat the popular white meat, and ask yourself if you know how it got to your plate? And if there could be another option to support?
The below video gives some graphic footage, that will remove your appetite... but at least it will also show you what your eating...