Ragazza con dubbi

What do we know (and by whom) about poultry farming?

Poultry has become the main source of meat and its contribution to human nutrition is increasing: ‘Poultry is the world’s most widespread domestic animal species (FAO, 2016)’.

However, you can give as much publicity as you want to a chicken or an egg, but if there is a lack of correct information on how the supply of chickens and eggs for human consumption works, all it takes is a few films and some poignant texts to make a responsible sector look evil. In fact, the attitude of the organisations that oppose protected poultry farming (otherwise known as intensive farming) is the result of a mixture of ideology and an unwillingness to scientific investigation. All it would take is open dialogue and serene communication between the parties and it would be possible, with less anguish and annoying (even paradoxical) interference, to perfect the already high level of attention to animal welfare that the poultry sector refines year after year and that has led to a constant increase in biological efficiency and environmental sustainability. Today, for example, a chicken, to reach a weight of 2.5 kg, consumes half a kilo less feed than 15 years ago, which translates into a 37% reduction of the land required for feed production. Indeed, it should not be forgotten that poultry farming aims to make food available that is simultaneously healthy, nutritious and affordable for most. It is also necessary to reflect on the fact that it is precisely the quest to obtain economic returns from this type of enterprise that produces, in a collateral (little known) way, a constant increase in animal welfare… which is, however, the issue that is most frequently discussed by both the industry and its detractors. It is seldom reflected on that the quality of the attention given to increasing animal welfare standards, motivated by the need to make it profitable to dedicate oneself to it, ‘automatically’ translates into healthy and ‘meaty’ animals because it ‘obliges’ the sector to study solutions that, being geared to balancing economically, are also consequently conducive to keeping the animal healthy and thus to acting for its welfare. Not only that. Poultry farming is an area in which sustainability aspects are unfortunately only known among insiders, who are more focused on doing than saying. A sustainability that is paradoxically put at risk by environmentalist and animalist ideologies, which are understandable and respectable, but conducted with hostile approaches and often with a certain form of ill-concealed cowardice highlighted by the fact that these organised groups, motivated by positive intentions, do not build direct paths of dialogue with the real protagonists of the sector, but rather with intermediate users (processors, large-scale retail trade, restaurant chains…).

The hostilities between animal rights activists/environmentalists and the poultry sector struggle to be resolved because of the clash between science and ideology. In both areas, much more progress could be made by building a dialogue that is aware of the limitations and shortcomings on both sides, with the aim of finding shared solutions.

Today, on the other hand, animal rights activists, not being bearers of scientific content, lacking an overall vision and having a tendency to use only their ‘belly’, turn out to be an entity whose only real goal is to close down all animal husbandry activities. Obviously, therefore, a defensive wall is triggered on one side and, on the other side, this wall is simply seen as an obstacle. Mediation is needed, and precisely for this we need dialogue and fair and impartial communication. This would also benefit the depth and credibility of the content of advertising in this sector, which today is expressed in an excessively banal manner.

These issues develop almost everywhere, and in some countries they are also addressed in different ways. For example, where there is evidence of destructive and irrational overkill by organisations, some governments intervene. In Australia for example, a law has been enacted to protect farmers from animal rights activists Australia: a law to protect farmers from animal rights activists


The editorial staff