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Why is chicken so dirt cheap? Why is May such a chicken?

(Thursday blog)

I’m a bit sad today. It seems nobody liked yesterday’s blog about “Jon Snow Syndrome”. I thought it was rather droll. Hey ho, can’t please everyone.

Chickens – everything you ever wanted to know

Anyway, change of subject today. Let’s discuss chickens. There are about 35 billion chickens alive today.

I don’t eat chicken since I was hospitalised with food poisoning after eating an undercooked Chicken Kiev in a reasonably expensive restaurant. But I was never fond of chicken since seeing a documentary about 30 years ago This film claimed that battery chickens only consumed about 30% of the energy in the food they ate. So their droppings were recycled with a bit more food added for them to eat again. I don’t know if this was true or just vegetarian or vegan chickensh*t propaganda. But it did rather put me off. I suspect this is no longer allowed. But that doesn’t mean that our chickens have a great life before we eat them.

A farmyard chicken can live for more than 6 years. But not all chickens spend this long on this earth. In fact, 99.99999% of chickens bred in Europe have rather shorter lives.

Intensively-reared chickens live for just 38 days. Yes you read that correctly – not 38 weeks, but 38 days. They don’t get 6+ years of life like barnyard chickens, they get just 38 days. If they’re allowed to live any longer than their 38 days, they grow so fast that their bodies become too heavy for their skeletons to bear and the chicken collapses and dies. Not so great, huh? Around 95.5% of chickens reared in Europe are the 38-day intensively-reared variety.

Ah” you protest, “I eat free-range chickens. At least they have a good life as they can wander around flapping and clucking to their hearts’ content for years”. Sadly, free-range chickens don’t live much longer than intensively-reared ones. The average life of a free-range chicken is around 56 days. Yup, 56 days, not 56 weeks. So they get just 16 more days on this earth than their intensively-reared chums.

There may even be some readers who only eat organic chickens in the belief that organic chicken breeders are somehow more concerned with their birds’ welfare than those nasty breeders of intensively-reared and even free-range birds. Well, you might be disappointed to learn that the average organically-reared chicken only gets about 81 days of life before getting the chop. Rather far from the 6+ years a farmyard chicken can expect to stick around for.

“Wait”, you say, “at least the living conditions of free-range and organic chickens are much better than those of intensively-reared ones”. A little bit maybe – with intensively-reared chickens there are around 17 birds per square metre. With free-range birds this falls to a still quite high 12 birds per square metre. And organic chickens live with 10 birds per square metre.

What else can I tell you about today’s subject – chickens? Oh yes, about 95.5% of the chickens we eat are intensively-reared, 3.5% are free range and just 1% are organic.

And finally prices – we pay about £2/kg for intensively-reared chickens; £4/kg for free-range birds and £7/kg for organically-reared birds. When breeders can take birds from a new hatchling to a fully-grown bird in just a few weeks, that’s why chicken is so dirt cheap.

Oh wait, I’m sure you’re wondering what happens to male chicks. Here’s an explanation from the RSPCA

In the egg industry, the sex of day-old chicks is determined at the hatchery. Sexing chicks (determining whether they are a hen or a rooster) requires considerable skill and is done at this very early stage to determine their fate.

If strong and healthy, the female chicks remain in the hatchery, they are grown to a suitable size and then transferred to a laying facility — which could be a caged, free-range or barn set up. Male chicks are considered an unwanted byproduct of egg production and are killed and disposed of shortly after birth.

Male chicks are killed for two reasons: they cannot lay eggs and they are not suitable for chicken-meat production. This is because layer hens — and therefore their chicks — are a different breed of poultry to chickens that are bred and raised for meat production. Layer hens are bred to produce eggs whereas meat chickens are bred to grow large breast muscle and legs.

Hopefully you all know a lot more about chickens than you did before you read today’s blog.

Enjoy your dinner tonight!

Theresa ‘Chicken’ May – you’re useless! Go now! Please go now!

Talking of chickens, here’s a very old bird – totally useless, cowardly, pointless Theresa ‘Chicken’ May – planning to get Parliament to vote for her humiliating capitulation to Brussels:

6 comments to Why is chicken so dirt cheap? Why is May such a chicken?

  • dave h

    The Hitler rants make me laff every time.

    I wasn’t aware the fate of chickens was quite so grim David, think i may have to become an optant too.

    Cheers.

  • William Boreham

    I’ve often vaguely wondered where on earth they get all those chickens from when I see so many various chicken based items in any given supermarket. I think I also read that without being fed anti-biotics, they would all die off; so of course, we are also eating those drugs with the chicken. The cheapest (and hopefully purest) form of protein I buy are the economy tins of sardines at 35p each at my local supermarket.

  • Julia Green

    Yuck, I’ve always wondered about cheap chicken, this is ghastly. A very good article.

  • Stillreading

    Dairy farming is no different. Dairy cows are bred specifically for their milk-producing ability and in order to lactate continually they have to produce a calf from time to time. If the calf is male, it is instantly killed. It can’t be raised for beef because it won’t be of the highest edible quality and some years ago “animal lovers” successfully brought an end to raising calves for veal. It’s all revolting and an example of how far farming has come from what nature intended. It’s enough to make the most broad-minded omnivore turn vegetarian, or even vegan. Except that veganism is so far from what humans require that to prevent pernicious anaemia supplements in the form of animal-based medication have to be given regularly!
    As for yesterday’s blog, bear in mind that in today’s cultural and political climate many people consider they may no longer publicly express their views for fear of repercussion.

  • Alan Thorpe

    Isn’t there also an issue with the high use of antibiotics to keep chickens healthy in these conditions?

    By chance, the Sky series “Billions” showed battery chickens last night. It is no way to produce our food.

  • Alan Thorpe

    On the issue of Theresa May, we might also ask what the Queen is doing about Brexit. She tells us that it is HER government and HER Prime Minister. It is time she made a statement telling us why she is allowing them to make the country a laughing stock. what is the point of an invisible Head of State?

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