Hooray for California!

Twenty months after Californians voted 63% to 37% to require “that all whole eggs sold in California come from hens that are able to stand up, extend their limbs, and spread their wings without touching either one another or the sides of the cage,” this will become Californian law in 2015. I wish this law took effect immediately. And I wish it actually enabled chickens to walk around in the sunshine and live outside cages. And I wish this applied also to chickens raised as food. Nevertheless, it will be a vast improvement over the absolutely cruel and revolting conditions endured by most American chickens.

The abuse and torture of many of the animals — esp. billions of pigs and chickens — Americans eat is an inexcusable horror. As helpful as California’s new law will eventually be, I’m disappointed more than 1/3rd of California voters opposed even the right of chickens to stand up. Billions of chickens live in darkness, practically stacked up one atop another:

More chickens are killed for meat in the U.S. by far than all other animals combined – nearly 9 billion in 2009. These birds, referred to by the poultry industry as “broilers” or “roasters,” are raised in a manner that would shock most Americans. They are crowded with thousands of others in windowless sheds, without access to fresh air and sunlight, for their entire short lives. Ammonia in the air and on the litter causes irritation and burns. They grow so large, so fast that their legs have trouble holding up the excessive weight (i.e., the birds “outgrow their strength”). Every aspect of the birds’ living conditions, from the lighting to the feed, is manipulated to increase production and decrease costs….

National Chicken Council guidelines provide only 0.6 – 0.7 square feet of space per bird, about the size of an 81⁄2 X 11 inch sheet of paper.16 Intensively raised poultry grow rapidly, and as a chicken approaches market age and weight, the bird’s own body takes up most of the allotted space, leaving no room to perform simple activities without coming in contact with other birds. While NCC guidelines grant each chicken only about 100 square inches, she needs 138 square inches just to stretch one wing, 178 to preen, 197 to turn around, and 291 inches – or about 2 square feet – to flap her wings….

High stocking densities also result in more chicken waste products (urine and feces) being discharged into the air and into the litter on which birds sit and lie. This can lead to irritation and burning of the eyes, respiratory tract, and skin.

Posted by James on Thursday, July 08, 2010