Well, yes George

The dust such operations raises is an exquisite compound of aerialised faeces, chicken dander (dead skin), mites, bacteria, fungal spores, mycotoxins, endotoxins, veterinary medicines, pesticides, ammonia and hydrogen sulphide. It is listed as a substance hazardous to health, and helps explain why 15% of poultry workers suffer from chronic bronchitis.

Animals are messy beings. Source of most of the infectious diseases that have lagued mankind over the millennia too.

And?

And, that’s why we farm them in farms, not have them around us like our forefathers did so that we don’t catch those diseases like our forefathers did.

24 comments on “Well, yes George

  1. Having a dozen hens scratching around the farm yard is a different scale of risk to keeping 20,000 inside a big shed. It’s not poultry keeping that’s hazardous – it’s industrial farming.

    In animal husbandry terms, small is not only beautiful but healthier, lower risk for the animals and much lower risk for their human keepers. And limited contact with those bacteria and fungal spores helps human immune systems, lessens the asthma risk and can help maintain the variety of gut flora that help prevent obesity and Type 1 diabetes.

    And believe me there’s no better smell than getting your nose into a happy warm hen’s soft downy belly and having a long self-indulgent sniff.

  2. Radders – “And limited contact with those bacteria and fungal spores helps human immune systems, lessens the asthma risk and can help maintain the variety of gut flora that help prevent obesity and Type 1 diabetes.”

    And yet virtually all the world’s influenza comes from the quaint habit of Chinese peasants living with their pigs and chickens. It is small scale as hell but it also allows the easy transfer of pathogens from animal to human.

    Unlike large factories where such diseases virtually never spread anywhere.

    Concentrated pig sh!t is a problem in the Netherlands and Denmark. Dilute pig sh!t is very good for the garden. Same sh!t, different volume. Generally I agree that exposure to animals is probably good for you, but when it comes to spreading disease, the fact that incidence of this spread is distributed across thousands of farms doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

  3. 1st world problems. Last week I got a call from my fiancee who was back home in the rural Philippines. She was excited because a 5m python had been found eating one of the neighbours’ chickens and 5 men were currently wrestling it.

  4. Honestly, I don’t really give a shit about animal rights. Sure, I’d rather not get food poisoning (but then again, I engage in the controversial activity of actually cooking the bastard before I eat it), but I also like cheap chickens, turkey and cows.

    If the chicken had a profound, fulfilling existence – a life of joy and self-betterment — before ending up on the plate, next to the carrots and spuds, then I guess that’s jolly good? But not a deal-breaker for me. Good lord no.

  5. Bloke in Wales – “you mean it might start to resemble Karachi?”

    Parts of it already do. Karachi without the sunshine.

    Dan – “If the chicken had a profound, fulfilling existence – a life of joy and self-betterment — before ending up on the plate, next to the carrots and spuds, then I guess that’s jolly good? But not a deal-breaker for me. Good lord no.”

    I do not like the sort of people who like animal rights. But it comes close to being a deal breaker for me. I won’t go out of my way to avoid animal cruelty. I do not, while sitting in the airport lounge of some Third World sh!thole, ask if the chicken was fed antibiotics.

    However you have to ask how much would you pay to give a chicken a decent life. An extra 20 pence? I would pay that to have a chicken that did not live in a dark box all its life. 20 pounds? Perhaps not. So somewhere in between is the deal breaker. I so pay more if I can be reasonably assured the animal was genuinely free range.

    The days when famine was not far off are long gone. We don’t need such a manic concentration on cheap food in the West. We can afford to pay more. So we should.

  6. @SMFS:

    Yes, and there is also a pecking order (sorry) for how much extra I’d pay to see good treatment of animals. For me it goes:

    – Dogs/cats/horses

    – Cows/pigs

    – sheep

    – poultry

    How did I come up with this list? Dunno, probably mostly cultural and a product of my own background, especially as I know that pigs are more intelligent than cats (thinking of my own dear indulged, but rather dim, kitties)

  7. Should make clear that I don’t eat cats or dogs and haven’t (knowingly) eaten horse!

  8. Radders, you do realise the same logic applies to schools?

    Except that transposing your last sentence would probably get you nicked…

  9. When I lived in a bluebell wood plagued with bloody muntjaks invading the garden to eat the roses and crabapples, my neighbours all recoiled in horror when I suggested that, come autumn, some organic freerange venison would be a fine thing. By the end of winter, those that survived were skin and bones. Never underestimate English sentimentality.

  10. In a chicken and mushroom pie, it is a toss-up which of the primary ingredients is the more stupid. The only criterion of merit for me is whether a given method of husbandry yields better-tasting chicken at a price I am willing to pay than another.

    Mongbiot is just being his usual Eeyore-ish self. He really is the most over-the-top miserablist writing in the modern British press.

  11. GlenDorran – “Dunno, probably mostly cultural and a product of my own background, especially as I know that pigs are more intelligent than cats (thinking of my own dear indulged, but rather dim, kitties)”

    There is a slight problem in knowing what an animal thinks of as cruel. However I think if you are making its life worse to stop behaviours that cost money but that they wouldn’t do outside (a good example being chickens pecking each other to death – a perfectly acceptable way to establish a, ah hem, pecking order outside, murderous if they are so confined the weak can’t run) it is time to stop and re-think.

    So I have a problem with the way that pigs are some times kept. I think the high density pig farms are on a bit of a decline, which is nice. Pigs are smart enough they should have a better life. Some fresh air, something natural to eat, that sort of thing. Unfortunately for them, they take to being raised in vile ways. Horses don’t. They die.

    The problem with chickens, of course, is that they would not survive on their own outside. Too delicious and no longer able to protect themselves against foxes, cats, eagle, weasels, pretty much anything with teeth. Turkeys are worse. Modern breeds are as stupid as posts and can no longer reproduce on their own once they reach full size.

  12. Bloke in Costa Rica – “The only criterion of merit for me is whether a given method of husbandry yields better-tasting chicken at a price I am willing to pay than another.”

    And the problem, from my perspective, is that the difference in taste is not that great. There is a huge difference in eggs. A genuine free range egg is almost a different beast to the grey coloured washed out supermarket equivalent. But in meat? I am sure there is some. I think I can taste some. But not much. It is a pity because if the taste difference was greater this would be easier.

    So the question comes back to what we are willing to pay on purely ethical grounds. I still think we should be willing to pay more. Animals are not machines.

  13. Ljh – “When I lived in a bluebell wood plagued with bloody muntjaks invading the garden to eat the roses and crabapples, my neighbours all recoiled in horror when I suggested that, come autumn, some organic freerange venison would be a fine thing. By the end of winter, those that survived were skin and bones. Never underestimate English sentimentality.”

    Bloody illegal immigrants. They come here and eat all our native flowers. Undermining British flower eaters.

    The solution is obvious – the re-introduction of the wolf. If you ever are in this situation again, you should try to sell your neighbours on this. After all, something has to keep down deer numbers. Hunger will if something else does not. So wolves are the kinder, more humane, 100% organic solution. See what they have to say.

  14. SMFS: while wolves may control the neighbours, a couple of lynx would be sufficient for the muntjaks if I have to share the venison.

  15. Bloke in Italy – “and a .303 is an even better solution.”

    Shooting the deer is a no-brainer. But in modern Britain that probably means it is illegal. How hard is it to get a gun and a licence these days? I would be concerned about how built up his area was too – safe shooting is surprisingly hard in many parts of the UK.

    The problem is that they do not like the idea.

    This is where some connections with the more vibrant, multicultural parts of the UK may help. I am sure there are quite a few ethnic restaurants and kebab stall owners who would like some fresh meat, cash in hand, no questions asked.

    Ljh – “while wolves may control the neighbours, a couple of lynx would be sufficient for the muntjaks if I have to share the venison.”

    I will forgive the muntjak everything if they feed lynx. Let’s hope the re-introduction works. Wolves rarely eat people. Some claim never. I don’t believe that. A danger to pet dogs? Sure. The odd pony? Perhaps. But not people.

  16. Sorry but the local chavs would be out every time a psychopathic bitch came on heat. I fear the next generation of pitbull/wolf crosses more than any wolf.

  17. SMFS,

    > And yet virtually all the world’s influenza comes from the quaint habit of Chinese peasants living with their pigs and chickens.

    Pigs and ducks, I believe.

    > And the problem, from my perspective, is that the difference in taste is not that great.

    Jamie Oliver tried an experiment, feeding different types of chicken to people blind to prove free-range tasted better. Sadly, they concluded that the cheap supermarket battery hen was tastiest. Fair play to him that he broadcast the results anyway, complete with his quite reasonable angsty ruminations on the problem.

    I’m with you: we shouldn’t need a taste-based reason not to battery farm. Battery farming’s awful. The chicken doesn’t need to have rights for it to be awful. We just need to have some decency.

    Ljh,

    My next-door neighbours have two pet timber wolves. Lovely friendly animals. (And so are the wolves. Boom tish.)

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