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Chicken Animal Awareness

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Essay title: Chicken Animal Awareness

“God loved the birds and invented trees. Man loved the birds and invented cages.” ~Jacques Deval

Mankind it seems, has always felt entitled to dominate all the animals we share the planet with. Perhaps this is natural, because of our superior intelligence or perhaps it can be traced back to the biblical account of God granting man “dominion over all the animals of the earth.” In regards to the most common bird on the planet (the chicken, or Gallus domesticus), I question where mankind has drawn the line between rightful or natural dominion over animals and the cruel, inhumane treatment of these passive creatures that we have assumed stewardship over (Wikipedia).

An unprecedented number of consumers are switching from red meat to poultry, hence the explosion of the chicken industry. Each year nearly ten billion chickens are hatched in the United States alone. Consequently, the chickens are being genetically altered and abused more than ever (Burlin). Society often sees the battered and deep fried end result as a delicious treat; rarely does one realize the abuse and neglect the animal must endure in order to achieve the final products.

More than nine million chickens in the United States alone are raised and killed every year exclusively for meat (Poultry). The secret lives behind the packaged products at the local grocery store are widely unknown. Investigators have examined the lives of chickens at Tyson and Perdue, two of the larges poultry producers in the world and found out the truth concerning these ill-fated animals. Broiler chickens, those raised and killed for meat, are hatched by the thousands in incubators and immediately boxed into crates and dumped into warehouses without ever seeing their mothers (Chicken). Once placed in the warehouses, the chickens will never again see the outdoors or breathe fresh air. They are forced to eat an unnatural diet consisting of manure and the remains of other chickens and their surroundings are no better. Dust surrounds their water sources, completely covering the floors and walls; feces and filth mantle the sheds making the air extremely unhealthy to breathe. Weeks of exposure to extraordinarily high ammonia levels results in deaths from disease in stress. Many of the animals become crippled and trapped in feeders, making it impossible for them to obtain water. After four weeks of living in their own waste, the floors are covered with diseased bodies and chicks with burns from the noxious ammonia (Animal Abuse). One man who witnessed the warehouses, Michael Specter, describes his experience:

“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."

After six weeks in these conditions the chickens reach market weight and men gather the chickens in the darkness and throw them by their feet into crates headed for the slaughterhouse. Many of the fragile bodies cannot handle the tossing and are left in the crates with broken wings and legs. They are denied food, water, and shelter from the extreme temperatures while in the crates. This stressful, injurious procedure costs numerous lives and many arrive at the slaughterhouse already dead. Once they reach the slaughterhouse they are dumped onto conveyer belts and hung by there feet from metal shackles. As they move down the conveyer belt a blade slits the necks of the chickens, yet inevitably the blade misses some bodies. If they are not killed by the blades, they are drowned in a scalding-hot tank of water for feather removal soon after. Many of the chickens at the slaughterhouse remain conscious throughout this entire process (YouCanHelp). As you can see, the chicken appetite around the world comes at a high price.

In addition to this routine abuse, the chickens deal with the side effects of genetic alteration. In the 1950s, it took 84 days to raise a five pound chicken, but now, because of genetic selection and growth-promoting drugs, it only takes 45 days to fully raise a chicken. It has been calculated that if humans were to grow at such severely accelerated rates, we would weigh 349 pounds by age two (Burlin)! Mentally, the chickens are still babies, but they are trapped in bodies of adults. The legs cannot support the unnaturally developed bodies and they cannot keep up internally either. The heart and lungs are not even developed enough to support the body of an adult, which results in heart failure and massive losses (Wikipedia). Industry researchers calculated that it is better to get the weight faster from many

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