Wednesday 13 November 2013

Guest, Keen, and Nettlefold

Foghorn Leghorn, the Deep South's most famous free-range rooster - contented...but fictional

I have happy memories of keeping chickens in my back yard. I especially remember three indulged layers called Guest, Keen, and Nettlefold (I lived in the steel heartland of the Northern Valleys then) which Mrs Blog would bring into the dining room after meals so that they could peck clean our plates, an eccentricity which meant we didn't see some dinner-party guests ever again.

Anybody who has kept hens knows that they won't lay eggs - or they lay far fewer eggs - if they are unhappy or distressed. Further, birds being grown for the table won't put on weight so quickly if they are unhappy. Nothing very surprising about that really.

And yet people are surprised to read today (see the story here) that mass-produced, caged birds are happier than free-range ones which endure all the anxieties of bullying, accidents, and not getting to the food on time.

But it's not surprising. That's why free range eggs and chicken cost much more than the industrially-produced ones which are happier and therefore more economical.

So ignore the millionaire foodies who wring their hands and try to intimidate poorer folk into buying expensive but actually less "welfare friendly" food products. Instead just go about your shopping with a clear conscience and wonder at the strangeness of life.