A story about: Chicken
A word of warning – this is a sad story but it could have a happy ending if you want it to.
Like our pet dogs or cats, chickens are curious and intelligent animals. They try to imitate the sounds of humans and other animals around them, chicks are playful and love human attention, chickens can even be trained. Chickens have close family ties and elaborate courtship rituals. They will fight foxes and eagles to protect their families and they mourn the loss of a loved one.
Chickens are also the most consumed animal in Singapore. In factory farms, they are given less than a sheet of A4’s worth of space per bird in filthy, windowless sheds with artificial lights and computerised machines dispensing feed and water. The water and feed are medicated with drugs to control parasites or with mass doses of antibiotics as necessary. A regular occurrence since disease is rife in these crammed environments, which only get cleaned at the end of each cycle, so after two to three weeks the floor of the shed is completely covered with faeces and the air is acrid with ammonia.
These broiler chickens, bred for consumption, are genetically selected to produce the largest birds, then pumped with growth hormones so that the birds become crippled under their own sheer, unnatural weight. Their bones, hearts and lungs cannot keep up. A large number of broiler chickens have leg problems. You can see the tell-tale hock burns – dark red patches – on the leg around the knee joint in the shops, which are caused by squatting in dirty litter because their legs hurt or are deformed.
And what does this maltreatment do to the final product that we feed our families? An intensively reared chicken is three times higher in fat, one third lower in protein, and lower in beneficial omega-3 fatty acids now than it was in the 1970s. Let alone in comparison to a chicken that is not intensively farmed.
The truth of the matter is that as long as consumers are happy to buy ‘value’ chicken from factory farms, the poultry industry will continue to treat birds appallingly, inject them with antibiotics that will inevitably make humans resistant to dangerous diseases and ultimately provide us with an inferior product to eat.
But we can change this by insisting on better quality products from the people who sell us our chicken – including detailed information on how the bird was raised, what it was fed, in what conditions and its exact journey from farm to plate.
It is this information that Sasha's Fine Foods is more than happy to share- in fact we insist on giving- so that our customers can make informed choices when they buy their chicken from us!
I promised a happy ending to this story and so you shall have it.
Sasha's Fine Foods sells chicken that comes from birds that have led a higher welfare life. While they are not allowed to be fully free-range as Singapore’s AVA’s fear of bird flu prevents this, they are the next best thing – free-roaming. This means that they have plenty of space to act out their natural tendencies in very large enclosures with wire mesh walls on either side so that they have as much natural sunlight and fresh, breezy air as possible. The birds are not fed antibiotics because they rarely get sick. The natural, clean environment and the lack of deformity amongst the flock means that they run around and grow to be fit and healthy.
We know about every step of each chicken’s life because I personally visit the farm regularly and can see for myself that the chickens are well looked after, healthy and happy.
Our chickens enjoy their life for a longer period of time than most – 60 days and above – where the average intensively farmed chicken will be processed at just 34 days old. They may not be as large as the chickens you’ll see in the shops that have been pumped with growth hormones, but the proof is very much in the chicken – it tastes like the chicken ‘from the old days.’ Natural, healthy and delicious. Made all the more so knowing that your choice to buy better quality meat meant one more happy life for a chicken.
- Sasha's Fine Foods