Originally Posted by Bine
We in Germany had a debate about the chick-shredder in the industrial poultry business lately.
Our animal welfare law is quite clear about the fact that we don´t want anyone to kill an animal only because it is an inconvenience. So I can trap mice, b/c they are risk for food security, I can trap voles, if the digging activity is a risk to my shed, but I am not allowed to kill a mole only because I don´t like what it does with my lawn. Not everyone respects this law and it is quite frankly not the best controlled law. But it has it good effects in society. We got rid of kill shelters for pets and everyone accepts the spaying and neutering of dogs and cats as mandatory.
The only big exceptions of this law are lab and farm animals but with that principle in place, it raised the standards for these animals, too and the green party and animal welfare organizations try to push for more. They tried to make a lawsuit against the big poultry operations in Germany. The first attempted failed but they will try again and the discussion it sparked in public made clear that no one wants to tolerate this practice forever. So the industry is looking for a solution and the government has made it clear that if industry doesn´t come forward with a plan to change that practice they will be forced to change. And yellow press front pages with a cute chick asking the reader to “please, save my brother..” is the last thing the industry needs every year around Easter, I think. So if there is a secure method to modify the sex of chicks, I will maybe the first to hear from it.
A friend I made here on the BYC once commented that if anyone had ever figured out how to control gender of each hatch, it would have already been patented and that person would be incredibly rich (I paraphrase). I guess that's the holy grail of the poultry world.
There's a fairly strong movement here in the U.S. right now to completely change industrial poultry keeping. Personally, having studied and learned about the mechanization (and quality destruction) of food production here, I think this is long overdue, BUT....and here's my hidden concern...the group pushing for these changes has announced that their ultimately goal is to make everyone in this country convert to vegetarianism. That's the pendulum swinging from one extreme to another. I've already been called a whole slew of names and looked upon with utter disgust because of my ability to raise and butcher my own birds for meat. There's such a massive disconnect between the people who buy their food wrapping in plastic and the people who process that food for others that it's become all too easy for the ignorant masses to pass judgement on those who prefer a more natural connection to their food production.
I'll be the first to admit that I literally cringe and/or shudder at the thought of a baby chick being thrown into a shredder. Just the sight of a helpless, innocent baby chick fills me with joy, and the thought of one being tossed into that heartless, hungry machine brings forth ideas of just what that little bird had the potential to grow into. And then a big dose of reality sets in, because for me that little cockerel would eventually have become dinner, which equates to killing the bird when it's much older, but killing it nonetheless. The main difference is that I would get a pretty fantastic dinner out of the process.
Humans have evolved to eat meat. That's a simple, irrefutable fact, and even though some choose not to consume meat, they invariably suffer physically for their 'moral' decision, but that's their right. It's MY right to decide for myself to continue eating meat, and to have a say in the quality of that meat. So....killing baby chicks is an ugly reality, but it's also a practical way of dealing with the problem of excess, unwanted cockerels. I just hope that meat isn't going to waste...that it's at least finding its way into dog food or something. Otherwise, the idealist in me says we should grow out those cockerels, perhaps after caponizing them to reduce fighting, and put a chicken in every pot.