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The Story of Our Feathered Friends This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     Picture this: In the middle of a field, far from the bustle of city life, sit two silver buildings. From the outside they don’t seem bad. A few wildflowers have sprouted up around them, and birds fly overhead singing their songs. However, inside are horrors far worse than anything published in a book, aired on television, or produced in a movie. These buildings belong to the U.S. chicken industry. Because there are no laws to protect chickens, and because many people do not realize how much these birds are like our companion animals, chickens are the most abused animals on the planet.

Many people don’t understand how adaptable and intelligent chickens are. I’m surprised a chicken hasn’t tried to hop into a house and learn to play an Xbox. Of course, that’s a little extreme, but people should treat chickens with as much respect and friendship as they do dogs or cats. After all, chickens are just as intelligent and sociable as man’s best friend.

Studies have shown that chickens are as smart as mammals - including cats, dogs, and some primates. Dr. Chris Evans, an administrator at an animal behavior lab in Australia, sometimes mentions the abilities of chickens at conferences without revealing what animal he’s describing. “People always think I’m talking about monkeys,” Evans says. Along with being able to recognize and remember each other, chickens comprehend at a young age that even when an object is not visible, it still exists. This object constancy concept takes children years to grasp.

Speaking of youngsters, a mother hen communicates with her babies before they are hatched. The hen chirps to her eggs, teaching the unborn chicks their language, and her babies chirp back from inside their shells.

Kim Sturla, manager of Animal Place, an animal sanctuary in California, told United Press International her observations of the caring nature of chickens. According to Sturla, one night it began to rain heavily on two elderly chickens roosting on a picnic table. When she went out to put them in the barn, she noticed that the rooster had his wing extended over the hen, sheltering her.

Anyone who spends time with chickens will quickly see their similarities with humans. But apparently, governments and food suppliers, who allow millions of chickens to suffer, don’t see these similarities.

Once more, picture the opening scene. Inside the first building, tens of thousands of chickens are piled on top of each other. Day in and day out, all they do is sit or lie on their sides because they have grown so big that their legs cannot support them. The smell of ammonia is so strong that most of their feathers have burned off. In the other building, the chickens are so crowded in cages that they can’t turn. Each lives in a space the size of a piece of notebook paper. Instead of being able to talk to their unhatched chicks, the only time these hens see their egg is as it rolls away from them on a metal conveyor belt. The hens’ beaks are missing because, days after hatching, they are seared off with a hot blade - without any anesthesia - to prevent the birds from pecking each other in these stressful conditions. In a way, these hens are lucky. If they had been born male, they would be dead already. Every year over 100,000,000 young male chickens are either suffocated in bags or ground up alive because they are useless in the egg-laying industry.

At just two months old, broiler chickens - those raised for their meat - are shipped to slaughterhouses, shackled upside down, scalded in hot water, and made into food for the masses. In natural settings, chickens can live for over a decade.

Why are farm workers allowed to put these sensitive creatures through such horrors? Simple. It’s all legal.


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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This article has 3 comments. Post your own!

YannieWhitlocks said...
Nov. 8, 2013 at 6:30 am:
You wrote a very great essay! It's not that boring and it really encourages readers to read til' the end. It also is very convincing. NICE JOB :)
 
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Thunderfirst said...
Jul. 16, 2009 at 2:03 am:
Very good! :)
I love how you wrote it, the humor was simple and good, the ending was perfect....all in all, you did great on this article!
 
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MoreliAthea said...
Aug. 17, 2008 at 12:13 am:
This is very nice. Love the message. It's not too provacative, and it's not too boring. The facts are presented in a perfect manner. Great job!
 
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