RE: [“Poultry for the people,” Feb. 5, Xpress] I commend the founder of the Asheville Chicken Club for pointing out that chickens are “fragile little birds and they need proper care.” I'd also like to share some information with those considering acquiring chickens. Half of the birds born at hatcheries supplying the egg industry (males) are unable to lay eggs. They are also unsuitable for meat production because today’s “broilers” have been genetically manipulated to grow big and grow fast, reaching optimum slaughter weight at a mere 6 weeks of age. So male chicks (byproducts) are killed on the day they are born, usually by suffocation in plastic bags or ground up alive.
What is someone to do if they don't want to be complicit in sentencing newborn boys to death by buying female chicks? Well, of course, you can stop eating these cholesterol-laden reproductive secretions. But, if you are determined to raise chickens for eggs, you might consider obtaining birds from a local farm. These places that profess good stewardship actually don’t keep chickens very long. Business decisions are based on profit margins, and egg productivity begins to wane after about a year. When the girls stop laying at an optimum pace, they get sent to a slaughterhouse. But they will keep laying if spared this gruesome fate, just at a slightly slower rate. For every one you rescue, a newborn boy will avoid the ugliness at the hatchery. It’s a win-win situation.
The picture accompanying the article was heartwarming. Seeing these young children looking upon a chicken with such adoration gives me hope. The more kids get to know these interesting birds, the more likely they will grow up to find it as repugnant to eat a chicken leg as a golden retriever leg. For a fascinating look into the behavior, intelligence, and emotional lives of animals raised for food, visit www.someoneproject.org.
— Stewart David