Chickens on New Year’s Eve

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<p>It’s a cool, drizzly New Year’s Eve. Some of the hens have a found a dry spot to rest up on the wood pile. The <a href=”” title=”Global Animal Partnership” target=”_blank”>Global Animal Partnership</a> has developed a 5-Step system of standards for raising farm animals. Their highest level, Step-5, allows up to 5.5 pounds of chicken per square foot. This basically means that all a farmer has to do to meet this highest standard, is provide 1 square foot of space per chicken. It’s hard to grasp how anyone would even think of keeping chicken so close together.</p>
<p>I’m sure the Global Animal Partnership means well, but when you read through their standards, in many ways, it seems that they are going out of their way to give good marks to chicken raised in rather deplorable conditions. So when you go to a store like Whole Foods and purchase chicken which passes the highest conditions of the Global Animal Partnership standards, it really doesn’t mean much. You are still buying chicken which has been raised in very crowded conditions, in flocks numbering the thousands and tens of thousands, and which have had very short lives. You are not buying chicken which enjoy life like those pictured at A Man and His Hoe.</p>
<p>When you think of it, for a store like Whole Foods, which needs to sell tens of thousands of chickens weekly, at a price most people are willing to pay, the farmers who have to meet those conditions have no choice but to crowd their chickens together and get those chickens to market weight in as short as time as possible.</p>
<p>Having mother hens raise those chicks a handful at a time, giving them acres of grassland and woods to raise those chicks, and letting those chicks experience the full range of complex chicken behavior, well all of that is out of the question.</p>
<p>Reading through the <a href=”” title=”GAP-5-Step-Animal-Welfare-Standards-for-Chickens-Raised-for-Meat-v2.0″ target=”_blank”>Global Animal Partnership’s 5‐Step&reg; Animal Welfare Rating Standards for Chickens Raised for Meat</a>, you get a good idea of all of the problems regular chicken farmers face when raising chickens under crowded conditions. By reading all of the practices that are prohibited, you realize that many farmers use those prohibited practices.</p>
<p>For 2014, I wish that more people consider what it means that the meat they eat comes from animals which have had deplorable lives, and that they search out farmers like myself, who are committed to giving the chickens they raise, a most wonderful life.</p>

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