Final Project!

picture above shows a few of my pet chickens

For my Final Project, I will be expanding from my Mini project 1 and 3, that can be found on my blog,  but adding a twist. In my mini project 1, I explained how we use animals, I chose cows, but it can apply to chickens, as a standing reserve-for our own goods. In my mini project 3, I explained the sources of the chicken and how the egg became what it is, and all that went into producing that egg. 

A typical person  may think a chicken is just a source of food; chicken nuggets, fried chicken legs, chicken breasts, or eggs. For me, a chicken is a pet and a part of my daily life. When I walk out of my front door, I see about 30 chickens and their home, a 20’x15’ coop. They have about 6 acres for roam on, and will always return back to their coop at sunset. Fun fact: chickens cannot see in the dark like some other animals. In a day, we (any member of my family), will go out two times a day to give the chickens water, feed, and gather eggs. About once a month, we will need to empty out the dirty straw and replace it with fresh straw, so they can have a clean living space. Our chickens are a part of our daily lives, and they are cared for like any other pet. When one of our chickens is injured or sick, I feel remorse and try to help. When one of our chickens passes away, I will feel down. We do not use our chickens for meat, but we do eat their eggs. When the pandemic hit and it was a challenge to find eggs in the stores, we gave away dozens of egg cartons to our neighbors and family close by. Conveniently, it was spring which is the time where we get more eggs than usual, due to Spring being a season where chickens lay the most eggs. Another benefit of having chickens as pets, is that they will eat bugs and kill snakes that are in our area, reducing the amount around our house. I care for my chickens like another person will care for their  dogs or cats. So, the question is, why are chickens treated so poorly in other places?

An estimated 9 billion chickens are slaughtered for food and 305 billion Hens are used for their eggs each year. The vast majority of these animals spend their lives in total confinement—from the moment they hatch until the day they are killed.More chickens are raised and killed for food than all other land animals combined. Chickens are inquisitive, interesting animals who are as intelligent as mammals such as cats, dogs, and even some primates. They are very social and like to spend their days together, scratching for food, taking dust baths, roosting in trees, and lying in the sun. But chickens raised on factory farms each year in the U.S. never have the chance to do anything that’s natural or important to them (PETA). 

I must provide a trigger warning, as this video attached contains very disturbing content, but it will give a sense of the sad reality of what chickens are put through when in big factories. Do not feel as though you HAVE to watch it in order to proceed with this post, as it is just a visual perspective. Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-RwqjtQmm8

Relating to readings from this class, Philosophy and Technology, I will use Roger J. H. King’s reading,“Eating Well: Thinking Ethically About Food”. In this reading, he basically says something along the lines of, we are what we eat. “Our habits of eating also create relationships to animals and to the soil”. He talked about how we are killing millions/billions of animals each year for our own good. “The meat industry is the largest consumer of freshwater in the country and a major consumer of land and grain crops. The conditions in which animals can be housed profitably for mass- market consumption require extensive use of hormones and antibiotics, relating both the meat industry and consumers of meat to the pharmaceutical industry. The concentration of animals in feedlots before they are slaughtered creates vast amounts of waste that can pollute local waters, poison fish, and harm human health”. By mass-housing and slaughtering these animals, we are doing more harm than health. Though you may think it is worth it, due to chicken and other animals being food at the dinner table, there are always other options and resources to fulfill these needs. 

Now, looking into the article, PUPPIES, PIGS, AND PEOPLE: EATING MEAT AND MARGINAL CASES, by Alastair Norcross at Rice University. In this reading, the author discusses how people see such a difference in the mistreatment of puppies, but not pigs. “Consider the case of chickens, the most cruelly treated of all animals raised for human consumption, with the possible exception of veal calves. Suppose that the industry is sensitive to a reduction in demand for chicken equivalent to 10,000 people becoming vegetarians. For each group of 10,000 who give up chicken, a quarter of a million fewer chickens are bred per year. It appears, then, that if you give up eating chicken, you have only a one in ten thousand chance of making any difference to the lives of chickens, unless it is certain that fewer than 10,000 people will ever give up eating chicken, in which case you have no chance. Isn’t a one in ten thousand chance small enough to render your con- tinued consumption of chicken blameless? Not at all. While the chance that your behavior is harmful may be small, the harm that is risked is enormous. The larger the numbers needed to make a difference to chicken production, the larger the difference such numbers would make. A one in ten thousand chance of saving 250,000 chickens per year from excruciating lives is morally and mathematically equivalent to the certainty of saving 25 chickens per year. We commonly accept that even small risks of great harms are unacceptable”. We look at these numbers, and selfishly think to ourselves that we do not make a difference, yet we do. We can make a difference, but it has to be one person at a time.

What if more people had small farms? What if we all had a chicken.. or 5..or 50? It would be ideal, but impossible for some, like those living in HOA controlled neighborhoods, apartments, in the city, etc. It will never be possible for everyone to play their part in stopping this, but we can all play a part. Shopping at local farms or farmers markets, where the livestock is cared for and not all of their animals are shoved into cages, malnourished, and/or mistreated can help this. By supporting big industries, we are supporting all the harm that they bring. Personally, my family gets their meat from a local farm about 10 miles down the road from us. Though we will never fully know how they treat their animals, we can easily view their entire farm from the road. The animals there are cows, pigs, and chickens. We can see that there is about 100 acres to roam, a variety of chicken coops, barns, and shelter for them to live, which is reassuring. 

Though there is no plausible or possible ‘solution’ to this issue, we can all play a part in making a small impact. What I would recommend to everyone, is to check into where your chicken on your plate is coming from, or even make a change as to where you buy it, or even, if you can consume less. In 2020, about 25% of people opt for vegan substitutes for meat (dealsonhealth). Why not give it a try? Personally, I find vegan substitutes tasty and filling, and the more I think about it, the better I feel. I am in no way on a vegetarian or vegan diet, but this substituting every once in a while makes me feel better and will make a very small difference, but if I can make even the smallest difference, I do not see the harm in it. Another option in which I believe is very possible, but may be challenging for some, is to give up “Americans favorite chicken fast food restaurant” (not naming any names).

Back to my original point, chickens are my pets, and they are a part of my daily life. When I look at them, I do not see a dinner plate, I see a living, breathing, peaceful animal. It is often hard to determine the line between humanity and greed, especially when it becomes a part of our daily life, and that is something that the technologies have proved to us and will continue to show.

Sources:

https://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/factory-farming/chickens/

https://philtech.michaelreno.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/King-Eating-Well.pdf

https://spot.colorado.edu/~heathwoo/readings/norcross.pdf

https://dealsonhealth.net/vegetarian-statistics/