4 May 2022

Three hens on grass
Chickens | Image by WDnet Creation

Op-Ed: 'Chicken Out' May 4 on
International Respect for Chickens Day

Hello United Poultry Concerns and Chicken Run Rescue,

Your organizations inspired me to submit this op-ed to a newspaper in Dallas. Thank you for all you do.

Rachel Schelter

The Dallas Express Logo

Opinion: ‘Chicken Out’ May 4 on
International Respect for Chickens Day

By Rachel Schelter
Apr 28, 2022

Are you going to ‘chicken out’ May 4?

According to United Poultry Concerns, May 4 is International Respect for Chickens Day.

But what is that? If you are like most Texans, you would probably laugh at the concept of this holiday. You might say that chicken is a food, and chickens don’t warrant much praise. Even the dictionary seems to agree that chickens aren’t particularly respectable: Merriam Webster defines the term ‘chicken out’ as ‘to decide not to do something because one is afraid.’

But is it true? If you ‘chickened out’ from some task or challenge and you acted like poultry rather than a person this May 4, would you back down or hide away from your challenges in fear?

Although chickens are associated with cowardice, fear, and trepidation, their true characters are quite the opposite.

Credible commentators agree: chickens are marked by pride, bravery, and a zest for life.

I dare you to conduct an independent investigation. Visit the world wide web or youtube and search ‘hen defends chicks.’ You will find copious documentation of these brave birds in courageous action. Or visit a regional animal sanctuary and you will meet new friends — who happen to be chickens — displaying as much verve, spunk, and personality as any, well, person.

As one considers whether to offer chickens respect May 4, one must wonder why: Why have most of us tasted a dead chicken’s breast and masticated the members of her body more frequently than we have seen a live chicken fly to her roost? Many of us never have heard a cock crow. Nor have we witnessed a hatchling emerge from his egg. Yet we eat eggs for breakfast and we consume a seemingly-endless assortment of chickens’ wings and ‘nuggets’.

I believe our culture does not respect chickens because it does not know who they are. And, worse, our culture is unwilling to consider chickens’ experience on their way to becoming dismembered and sent to a freezer in plastic wrap.

2,000 chickens are slaughtered each second, each with his or her own personality and perception, killed despite the desire to live. Through their breeding, most chickens’ bodies grow unnaturally fast, resulting in numerous deformities.

Most have less than a square foot of space to move. Even so-called ‘humane’ farms rarely face independent monitoring, and are frequently exposed as abusive.

The overcrowding results in filthy conditions, ammonia-soaked air, and psychological torture. Fed drugs and antibiotics due to the unsanitary warehouses where they are kept with tens of thousands of others, these conditions contribute to the development of ‘superbugs’ which pose a threat even to modern medicine. Neighboring communities suffer from the pollution, too, such as those in North Carolina opposing Smithfield Farms poultry plants for what community members condemn as environmental racism.

This is only a tiny glimpse into the horrors faced by chickens and the challenges presented to anyone willing to understand chickens’ plight.

So I beg you to ‘chicken out’ May 4.

Don’t be like the corporations and farmers who connive against the innocent and exploit whoever is least able to speak up.

Don’t be like the consumers willing to turn a blind eye to a grave harm done to the earth and its inhabitants.

‘Chicken out’ like a mother hen fiercely protecting her chick against the hawks, cobras, and wolves of this world. (Google it — these hens are stunningly brave!)

Speak up for chickens this May 4 on United Poultry Concerns’ ‘International Respect for Chickens Day.’

Learn about their plight, and leave them off your plate.