uomo con lente di ingrandimento su pollo

A conscious gaze

When you observe or are shown a poultry farm, it is important to correctly interpret what you see.

Usually those who show you a farm, by offering you a critical reading, do so to lead you to read it differently from reality.

The poultry sector is not used to talking about itself, but sometimes they must correct what is presented by those willing to negatively influence the judgement on the professional poultry farming system, that exists to provide mankind with an important source of high quality, ideology-free, highly digestible and sustainable protein for the planet.

So here is a little guide for when you happen to see images of a farm.


Space for chickens

If you had the patience to spend a few weeks observing a broiler farm, you would notice the progression of the chicks’ growth and the space that accommodates them. The chicks grow, feeding on adequate and controlled feed and drinking clean water. As they grow, the space between them, that was huge at the beginning, obviously decreases. It might seem to you that the space gets too small, but chickens are animals that prefer to be close to each other, most birds live in flocks. They seek each other out, and so in some places on the farm you will find a lot of them and in other places you will even find emptiness. Rules have been set for a minimum amount of space in a regular flock and this space is of course always respected. But it is in the nature of chickens to stay close together. They try to go where there are others and this natural behaviour also serves them to regulate the temperature, by moving closer or further away from each other. When they decide to sleep, they also move closer together for what is interpreted as a form of ‘security’. We humans also do something very similar.

Those who want to denigrate farming systems will instead show you only close-ups with many chickens and no empty spaces to make you think bad and tell you that they are confined in cramped spaces.


Below 3 images of different stages of growth of a chicken in an intensively protected farm


Chicken breast

Chickens have been selected to grow a big breast. And this is preferred by all those who buy chicken at the supermarket.

Those who want to denigrate farming systems will show you that the chicken may have a wobbly gait by telling you that this results from an excessive growth of the breast in relation to the legs. Now you should know that there is a constant control on these aspects too, which confirms the attention paid to the welfare of farmed animals: it is called Gait Score. This method of control and verification, records the quality of the gait of farmed chickens: the cases in which this is ‘excessive’ varies between 2.5% (in organic chickens) and 5.5% (in conventional chickens). Are we humans so careful even towards ourselves in controlling our health in all its forms? Do we constantly check the entire human population for our well-being?  Of course not, unfortunately. On poultry farms, on the other hand, this happens as a practice for the protection of animal welfare and consequently that of human nutrition. Yet there are humans who try to pass farmers off as torturers of chickens bred for our food.

Those who want to denigrate poultry farming systems avoid considering their importance and avoid elaborating on the fact that they serve exclusively for human food purposes and therefore exist in relation to the need of humans to feed themselves with cheap high-quality food, to provide access to it for as many people as possible.


Chicken: How does it get to the supermarket?

At the end of the growing period, the chickens are taken to the slaughterhouse.

Those who want to denigrate farming systems accuse farmers about the way the chickens are handled when they go to slaughter. Do you know how slaughtering works? On the farm, darkness is created to keep the animals calm. And advanced systems are adopted to avoid suffering or trauma to the animal during the catching.

Those who want to denigrate the farming systems will instead show you this moment by saying that farmers don’t want to show what happens. The low light used is to allow the chickens to be picked up without scaring them. Catching is planned according to the slaughterhouse’s working times: chickens are usually caught in the evening or at night and processed early morning.

There are other cases in which denigrators take their cue from light or its absence:

link to https://moreaboutchicken.com/if-you-want-an-egg-you-turn-on-the-light-but-you-also-prepare-the-shade/


The chicken stretches its legs

Chickens sometimes stretch their legs, just as we humans do when we stretch our arms and legs.

Those who want to denigrate farming systems will say that those behaviours express some form of discomfort.


So tight that they stand on top of each other (?)

It happens that chickens walk on top of each other.

Those who want to denigrate farming systems will say that those behaviours are proof that they are forced into cramped spaces. In reality, those who study the behaviour of chickens know that they like to stay close together. And when they decide to move to a place other than where they are, it happens that they choose the shortest route by passing over one of their own kind.


Oh God, they are losing their feathers… are they sick?

If you have had the patience to stay a few weeks and watch the chickens being reared, you will have noticed that at some point they have very few feathers on some parts of their bodies and that you can therefore see their bare skin.

Those who want to denigrate farming systems will say that this proves that animals get sick on the farm. The reality is instead that chicks begin to change feathers after the first week of life and their plumage does not fully develop until after 28 days. This transition then manifests itself in the gradual replacement of the first feathers and the equally gradual growth of the adult ones.


Is the chicken out of breath?

You may see a chicken sitting with its beak open and its breast rising and falling.

Those who want to denigrate farming systems will say that this proves that the chickens in intensive farming lack air. That behaviour serves the animal to regulate its body temperature: you have probably also seen your dog do it when it breathes with its tongue out. It too, like the chicken, decides for itself to regulate its body temperature.


How do the chickens clean themselves?

Those who want to denigrate farming systems will say that in ‘those places’ the chicken cannot follow its natural behaviour because it has no way of washing itself using the soil as many birds do. If you follow a farm constantly, you will notice that the chickens bathe themselves using the soft litter on which they are placed, shaking and smoothing their feathers with their beaks … as all birds do.


Two on a hundred don’t make it!

Chickens are not immortal. No living thing is. Not even humans. It therefore happens that some chickens, even in intensively protected farms, die or become sick.

Those who want to denigrate farming systems will say that if they die and get sick it is the fault of the farm or the farmer. Do you believe that chickens do not get sick in nature? Can you really believe that animals do not suffer from diseases and that they do not die? Instead, it happens in nature and also on farms. It also happens to humans, although humans do not make the news.

However, it happens much less frequently on farms than with wild animals, only ‘two on a hundred don’t make it , precisely because the farmer is necessarily attentive to the quality of their health and welfare. Otherwise he could not feed them to humans. However, if a chicken dies or is culled, it can result from birth defects, accidents, diseases … just as it happens to every animal (including humans). Link to https://moreaboutchicken.com/chickens-are-fine-everywhere/


The editorial staff of M.A.C.