The suffocation this week of nearly 200,000 broiler chickens owing to equipment failure in Helensville, New Zealand, is profoundly shocking. It is especially heartbreaking for those who know what beautiful, sentient chickens routinely go through in commercial poultry operations.
From the moment they are poured from buckets onto the gigantic shed floor as hatchlings – they have been debeaked without painkillers so they cannot hurt themselves or each other in the extreme frustration of their living conditions – their lives are sheer hell. Artificially bred for rapid growth that induces lameness and other health issues, living in cramped and artificial conditions, standing and lying in their own feces and with ammonia burns from resting on waste-strewn litter, a percentage never even reach slaughter weight at 6 weeks old. They die of heart failure, and even starvation if they cannot move to feed. When they are shipped off to the slaughterhouse to have their throats slit they are still infants. Indeed, their cries resemble ‘peep peep peep’, like the babies they still are.
This monumental injustice against sentient beings is legal in every country where chickens are industrially raised for meat. Here in New Zealand we have a law that recognises animals as sentient, and yet we keep chickens – and pigs, as well as other animals – in such conditions. Clearly, the law is a farce.
In this article End Animal Slaughter contributor LYNLEY TULLOCH puts the recent Helensville trajedy into context, and asks us to make the right ethical and moral choices by leaving animals off our plate and adopting a vegan diet.