Wednesday is International Respect for Chickens Day and I’m guessing that, if you work in chicken-hating corporate America, you aren’t getting the day off, either.
Even so, Virginia-based United Poultry Concerns is urging everyone to perform an act of respect for chickens on Wednesday.
Well, I’m stumped. I live in the suburbs. The only chickens I see are under cellophane or on a plate. So how do you respect a dead chicken? Flowers just don’t seem appropriate and saying a prayer in front of the supermarket meat counter isn’t something store management encourages. They think praying over their food items might suggest the wrong message.
Fortunately, the poultry group offered a couple of practical ideas. You can write a letter to the editor (not something that we particularly advocate here at the Tribune) or watch the movie "Chicken Run,’’ a movie about how a group of brave Allied chickens escaped a German POW camp during World War II.
In the news release, poultry group president Karen Davis said that the day was set aside "to protest the bleakness of (chickens’) lives in farming operations.’’
Now I was not particularly aware of the living conditions of chickens, so I called Clint Hickman, a third-generation chicken rancher. Hickman’s Egg Ranch does not produce chickens for consumption, at least not in the most obvious sense. The Hickmans sell eggs.
Hickman’s Egg Ranch in Maricopa consists of 1.5 million chickens with another 1.5 million chickens clucking over in the west Valley. The total daily egg production is 2.5 million, which provides us with at least one insight into the lives of chickens: They are not particularly inclined toward abstinence.
Hickman believes his chickens don’t have much of a gripe.
"They get a full plate of food six times per day,’’ he said, which puts the average chicken on par with your teenaged son. "They get all the water they can drink and we keep them out of the heat. They have air-conditioning.’’
Of course, Hickman has no way of knowing how his employees treat the chickens. Maybe they make derogatory comments or ignore their suggestions. But at least they are well-fed and cool. If the dairy cows ever hear about the airconditioning, well, look out.
Still, the group isn’t satisfied.
"Chickens are lively birds who have been torn from the leafy world in which they evolved,’’ Davis said. "We want chickens to be restored to their green world and not be eaten.’’
So if you see anybody tearing a chicken from its leafy world, you should call Davis at (757) 678-7875.
And on Wednesday, as a show of respect, please keep the "why did the chicken cross the road’’ jokes to yourself, OK?