Chickens as a species remain iconic across borders and histories, not only capable of interacting with the human race, but responsible for feeding billions on a global scale that almost has no equal when marine animals are counted. More chickens are consumed than any other land animal in the world, according to Counting Animals.
Chickens are easier to raise and transport than all the rest. They adapt to climate and condition changes better than all the rest. They train easily to schedules and habits as long as a basic understanding of their temperament and instinct is adhered to. In spite of being a migrationless bird species, they’ve become the most extensively tucked into every nook and cranny the earth has to offer because their relationship with humans has become so codependent that neither one could live well without the other.
“Live well” is what Respect for Chickens Day is all about. Thanks to several years of growing awareness, chickens are slowly coming to live less like slaves and more like the energetic curious creatures they were born to be. Strict genetic reengineering may have somewhat solved some cost-benefit problems, but also reveal a disturbing darker side of human industrial development. While we hope to be advancing beyond our own racial and gender socioeconomic typecasting, large and small scale chicken keeping both reveal a dastardly willful ignorance as the science of suffering measures the limits of tolerance and growth rates down to the jots and tittles of personal space and nutrition. Raging debates continue regarding the definitions of cage free and free range, with the public being trained to look approvingly upon pastured flocks.
Chickens by nature are born into what I like to think of as small tribes. They become proficient athletes and have been known to free range for miles. They stringently guard their own and prevent new disease by driving off or killing tribeless wanderers, while thoroughly inspecting every inch of range along the way. Their diet is so varied that they are able to subsist on nearly anything they find, and their gut is healthiest when that is exactly what they do. Raising chickens on milled feed, grit rocks, oyster shells, inoculations, parasite purges, and vitamins in drinking water is a poor substitute for what we now know are vitally missing prebiotics and probiotics found everywhere in nature. Interestingly, chickens in captivity seem to mirror humans living in big cities, far removed from our original nature, subsisting on processed foods and enhancing our lives with toys and meds that help us psychologically tolerate our crowded conditions.
Chickens are one of the most studied animals in the world, along with humans. I daresay a good look at chickens side by side with humans is telling of a world where we have all become slaves to markets, housing, shipping, education, governments, and many more interacting world systems. It might sound cheesy, but I’m going to say it- We must look to the chicken to see the future of man.