Not all chickens are born equal. Nor are pigs, nor are sheep, for that matter.
That’s the bald truth of the matter. And the problem with this, aside from health issues for the animals themselves, is that consumers have no idea where their produce is coming from or how it got there. They think they do, but they don’t.
Even if animals are raised well, there’s no guarantee they will meet a humane end as the latest round of abattoir cruelty scandals hit the media earlier this month.
And there’s little in the way of peace-of-mind to distinguish between those producers and graziers who do do the right thing and those who game the system and make their animals suffer.
All this comes as animal welfare organisation Voiceless launches a new advertising campaign to raise awareness about the realities of factory farming in Australia. The commercials come with the added star-power of Hugo Weaving and Abbie Cornish.
And Abbie Cornish has this to say:
“Ultimately, each of us must respond to animal cruelty in our own way and the response is often a journey, where the starting point is learning the truth that lies behind your fork,” said Dana Campbell, Voiceless CEO.
That’s because ‘farm to fork’ labels are misleading at best. So, let’s get a feel for what we’re dealing with.
Raising animals in Australia
Industry chickens are bred for two reasons and two reasons only. For their eggs, or for their meat.
Battery hens, the machine-line egg producers, are almost universally assured a life without sunlight or open spaces. Many are kept in cages four-apiece with less than an A4 sized piece of paper to live in, according to welfare groups. There are 11 million of these battery hens in Australia.
The birds are animals and they have animal urges. Things like dust-bathing, perching, ‘the very strong desire’ to lay their eggs in private spots. None of this happens for a battery hen. As many as one in six live with broken bones as their cage conditions weaken their skeletons.
When their egg laying rate inevitably slows, the hens are disposed of, around the age of 18 months. Male chicks don’t even make it that far. They are gassed or otherwise ‘ground up’ when they are born.