Friday, 1 August 2008

Not a great way to spend life, is it? (Matt 26:75)

But this is the UK... a nation of animal lovers and there are moves to change the circumstances these animals live under, but at the moment the situation is that poultry scientists have bred chickens which grow fast. As they grow, their living space – smaller than an A4 piece of paper for each bird – gets more and more cramped as they near the end of their short lives. With around 17 birds packed into each square metre they have barely enough space to walk, preen, stretch their wings or even turn around.

Such cramped conditions and rapid growth cause severe welfare problems. Chronic lameness is common – one third of chickens have difficulty walking without pain. The stress on their hearts and lungs can cause heart failure. About 5% die or have to be culled prematurely. A typical chicken shed holds 40,000 birds, they never set foot outside or see natural light, they feed around the clock - with as little as one hour of darkness for every 24 hour period but there is a plus point... our chickens and eggs are cheap!

To put it bluntly, these animals are living in torture conditions. I was thinking about this recently when the circumstances of Jesus being denied three times by Peter came to mind and a cockerel crowed. Alone in all of creation a chicken cried out at the betrayal of God. They have certainly paid for it since then, haven't they?


homebrewlibrarian said...

I have had cause to reflect on the abundance of cheap eggs after chatting with the staff of a small restaurant known for their breakfasts. While paying, I looked back towards the kitchen and saw stacks, STACKS, of filled flats of eggs and just as many empty ones. Seeing as how it takes a chicken around 24 hours to produce one egg, this one restaurant alone used the products of hundreds of chickens EVERY SINGLE DAY. Whoa.

As the world moves away from industrialized foods, I wonder what will happen to all these restaurants? Certainly the chickens and other food animals will live better lives even if many eating spots close down. Now that I think about it, we'd all be living better lives if we all had to cook for ourselves more often.

Hm. Food for thought...

Kerri in AK

Wendy said...

It's very disturbing, isn't it?

My family has had chickens for eggs for a couple of years, now, and we also raised chickens for meat this year. My very good friend also raises animals to feed her family, and the other day, she was telling me about a conversation she was having with a mutual acquaintance.

The acquaintance was squeamish about the fact that my friend raises her own food, and said, in effect, "Don't tell me! My meat comes wrapped in cellophane from the grocery store!"

I thought it was a little sad to realize that there are still people who are comfortable not knowing. And would rather plead ignorance than change their habits.

Dr. N said...

I suspect that another negative consequence of raising chickens this way is the nutritional value of those chickens and their eggs. If it's the same as cows raised in a similar manner, those chickens will be higher in fat, lower in omega-3 fat, and lower in protein.