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This week a farmer in Yorkshire has announced that she is selling off an entire flock of chickens to members of the public.
You can snap one up for less than the price of a bottle of coke.
That’s £19 less than it costs to buy a bunny rabbit and £4 less than the cost of a living and breathing hamster.
It would take a 16-year-old British teenager 20 minutes on minimum wage to earn enough money to buy an actual living being.
If the birds are not sold then the farmer will send them to slaughter, where she’ll receive around a quarter of the price she’s charging members of the public, just 25p per chicken.
The trading of lives by those who deem themselves superior is a common theme in human history.
There are places where humans are still bought, sold and exploited, but these days this is a much more common occurrence for non-human animals.
More than a billion animals are killed for food each year in Britain alone. Around 975 million of these are chickens, and 40 million will be ‘spent hens’ just like these ones.
These particular chickens are only 17 months old and must be sold and replaced because the client they lay eggs for wants to avoid deteriorating shell quality.
Chickens can live for 10 years, so that makes these girls adolescents, but as far as human interests are concerned they’re already done.
If the public don’t buy all 12,000 hens, those who are left will die.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the best thing to do is to skip along to Yorkshire and pay a couple of quid to rescue a few, but it’s important that we remember what it is that veganism stands for.
We’ve pledged not to pay into an industry that exploits and murders animals.
If we give £1 per chicken to a farmer like this one, we’re enabling the purchase and exploitation of four more.
We’re funding the very industry we’re working to abolish.
With a 987% increase in demand for meat-free dishes reported by Just Eat in 2017 and more people than ever signing up for Veganuary, those who trade in animals’ lives are looking for alternative ways to make money.
In 2015, Farmer’s Weekly published a feature on one such person, who admitted that he was selling his chickens over the farmyard gate to members of the public because he got more money for them that way.
The article begins: “The depressed market for spent hens has persuaded one Leicestershire egg producer to sell his old birds over the farm gate, rather than sending them to slaughter, in the hope of getting a better return.”
There is money to be made from compassion, and those who trade in animal lives are aware of it.
Mr Terry was selling hens to the public for £2.50 each, admitting that he got around 15p for them if he sent them to the slaughterman.
He said: “We advertised them in 2014 and sold about 1,000, with the rest going for slaughter.
“This year we are hoping people will buy more. The hens can continue laying for several years. They may not produce the 300 eggs they do in their first year, but they will lay nice, big eggs.”
And this is what this all boils down to.
As far as most people are concerned a £20 bunny rabbit or £5 hamster have purpose.
They entertain children. They’re trendy to have as pets.
Hens lay eggs. The type of hen a farmer is selling across the farmyard gate for less than the cost of a sandwich won’t lay every single day.
Her eggs might not be a traditional shape, or their shells may not be quite so bright.
It is this that makes her only slightly better than worthless as far as humans interests are concerned.
It is this that means she is worth less than a bottle of coke.