Monday, February 4, 2013


Chicken, chicken and chicken1 This world is getting overwhelmed by chickens as every omnivorous human being loves a chicken preparation in what ever it is prepared! Imagine the human beings, collectively dispatching the souls of about 4o billion creatures belonging to the chicken species every year for just their culinary pleasure! In a world of great inequalities where man is the supreme "animal", other lesser living species have no right to live and to some extent it is understandable as the natural theory of evolution is based on survival of the fittest. But while destroying other fellow inhabitants on this planet, why not make their lives less miserable by providing minimum comforts before leading them to slaughter. This is what the animal activists are fighting for and chick farms world over are living examples of man's cruelty to animals. In rampant pursuit of money and pleasure man has become the cruelest and most ruthless animal on earth and no wonder the nature is hitting back with vengeance when it is realized that unlike herbivores, those practicing omnivores face enormous health related afflictions incurring enormous money on treating such diseases. Here is a commentary on the heart breaking conditions of poultry birds in thousands of farms across the US, known for so long but very little being done to address the issue. 

"In 2003, the animal protection group Compassion Over Killing produced a video exposé of the biggest farm animal industry in our country – the factory farming of chickens raised for meat.  Entitled 45 days,  it laid out the short, brutal life of a broiler  (i.e. meat) chicken: panting, overcrowded, lame, limping and even dead birds. The film shows a bird trapped in a feeder unable to reach water, birds in filthy, dusty conditions, and birds with chests so heavy that they were unable to move around with ease. New Yorker writer Michael Specter wrote separately in 2003 on his first visit to a broiler factory farm, "I was almost knocked to the ground by the overpowering smell of feces and ammonia. My eyes burned and so did my lungs, and I could neither see nor breathe….There must have been thirty thousand chickens sitting silently on the floor in front of me. They didn't move, didn't cluck. They were almost like statues of chickens, living in nearly total darkness, and they would spend every minute of their six-week lives that way." That was nearly ten years ago and still remains the last time the public saw in any detail the life of a factory farmed broiler chicken in the U.S. Globally, the world raises and slaughters some 40 billion chickens for meat every year – 9 billion of whom are right here in the U.S. We are the world's largest producer. More than 99 percent of U.S. broiler chickens are raised in barren windowless enclosed long houses, houses that remain inaccessible to anyone outside the industry. Recently in rural north Georgia and south Kentucky, I drove past row upon row of uniform structures – 500 feet long, 40 feet wide and windowless – on otherwise barren properties, surrounded often by beige fields of soy and maize.  What hides behind the walls? What starts off as a seemingly spacious, clean (though barren and dimly lit) environment, soon changes. A full 25,000 individual animals defecate in the same enclosed space for 45 days. They get a lot bigger, rapidly growing from the size of your fist to the size of a soccer ball in that short period. They crowd that space as they grow, with each individual only having space equivalent to less than a piece of 8"x11" paper.   It is a sea of chickens from wall to wall, sitting in their own feces, struggling to move, in large part because of their genetics. The modern broiler chicken is unnaturally large and has been bred to grow at a fast rate. This selective breeding produces as side effects serious welfare consequences including leg disorders: skeletal, developmental and degenerative diseases, heart and lung problems, breathing difficulty, and premature death. The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture explains the unnaturally fast growth rate as follows: "If you grew as fast as a chicken, you'd weigh 349 pounds at age 2." [1] They are forced to breathe ammonia and dust filled air, and have no natural lighting. Most photos and video from factory farms come from undercover investigators who manage to get hired to work within the farm and then secretly gather images for an external organization.  This is next to impossible in a broiler factory farm.   There is hardly a 'job' involved in raising broilers in factory farms anymore. Often there are only one or two people, usually the farm owners, overseeing multiple houses, each house filled with tens of thousands of birds. Chickens are put into a long windowless structures soon after hatching. They grow in that house and the main job of the farm owner is to remove, dispose of and record the dead birds on a daily basis. A  University of Georgia's College of Agriculture and Environmental Science (CAES) study refers to a typical flock of 25,000 birds in Georgia with a 3% mortality rate over 6 weeks.  On average, that means 750 birds dying over the 6 week in each house and the farmer on average picking up 18 dead birds a day in each house over the 6 weeks. That is the main job – recognizing dead or dying birds, killing sick birds, picking up dead birds and disposing of them. The feed, water and temperature are automated and the litter is never changed during those birds' short life. The job is done easily by one or two people and the farm worker (including a covert one) is hardly required".

Can any consumer, aware of such humiliating and brutal practices in these poultry farms, relish the attractive dishes served in restaurants or cooked at home or offered by the industry, without affecting the conscience? World must ponder over whether killing billions of animals and birds mercilessly for the sake of food is a desirable step for mankind to survive? Why not the collective conscience of the world decide to phase out mindless destruction of animals over a period of, say, about 50 years? Why not bring up a generation of population not addicted to meat foods? May be this is platonic in thinking but to bring back the humaneness to humanity this is unavoidable!


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