The Reality of Farming | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

The Reality of Farming

Comment writer Alex Goodwin argues that animal lovers often ignore the reality of the farming industry

On Friday, one horrified citizen stumbled upon 1,800 newborn chicks abandoned and left to die in a field in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire.

The RSPCA is heading the investigation into why the chicks were abandoned, but it is speculated that the owner most likely misjudged the profit returns of the chicks, suggesting this sad incident is simply another inevitable part of the egg industry.

The incident has seen a spark of outrage amongst the public, as a significant number of the chicks had died in the winter conditions. Many owned the view that their abandonment was inhumane.

However, what the incident highlights is the hypocrisy within society when it comes to our agricultural industries.

6 billion male chicks are inhumanely disposed of in the global egg industry every year, in much worse conditions than that of the abandoned chicks.

Most of the time, the deemed useless male chicks are disposed of in large quantities, dead or alive, or thrown in a blender like machine to simply crush them efficiently. This occurs whether the eggs are labeled as organic, free-range, or caged, often unbeknown to the public.

Individuals are paid to brutally murder chickens, pigs and cows alike

Young chicks have their beaks removed without anesthetic, are kept in cages where they don't have the space to move or turn, let alone spread their wings. And of course where millions upon millions of male chicks are brutally murdered each year out of sheer uselessness to the industry. New alarming research shows newborn chicks are as aware, intelligent and conscious of their environments as a human toddler, therefore selective outrage is truly futile.

The Cambridgeshire chick incident has merely highlighted the ever-present hypocritical questions within society. Empathising with another earthlings pain is intrinsic to us, so why unless it is brutally presented in front of our eyes, do we choose to turn our heads to such horror?

We buy free-range in the hope of suppressing our guilt: ‘It’s fine! Free Range means the chickens are treated well.’ In actuality, it refers to the cubic centimeters of space the chicken has whilst in confinement. The cages are swapped for small sheds. Their treatment for the most part, is exactly the same.

The horrendous irony of groups such as the RSPCA in a world where millions of animals die for profit at the hands of our global agricultural industries highlights just part of the issue. An individual can spend up to five years in prison in the UK for the mistreatment of a dog, yet other individuals are paid to brutally murder chickens, pigs and cows alike.

So whilst no one can argue the sheer sadness of the dying and abandoned chicks, the societal and media outrage is ironic to the next degree.

A society so laden with self-proclaimed animal lovers needs to take a long, hard look in the mirror and accept that our everyday choices lead to inhumane and unnecessary suffering. 1,800 abandoned chicks does not touch upon the surface of this multifaceted issue.

4th year Political Science and International Relations student (@alexgoodwin_)


1st March 2017 at 10:00 am

Last Updated

28th September 2017 at 10:26 pm

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