I have a work in the group exhibition 'Fowl Play' opening this Tuesday 15 December at 5.30pm. Dubbed 'That Chicken Show' the exhibition will explore the complex lives of chickens and the role of humans in their often short and uncomfortable existences.
If you are free, come along to see the show that will be open until 8 January 2016 at the Belconnen Community Centre. Join the Facebook event here.
Like many farm animals in our society, the life of an egg-laying hen is often idealised and romanticised. Far from ideal, the egg industry in all its manifestations – caged to RSPCA certified free-range - has a hidden dark side. As the demand for animal products rises, so too does the industrialisation of farmed animals. Sentient animals become ‘food units’ and are labeled as producers, products and waste products. In the egg and chicken meat industry, male chicks are unsuitable for meat and egg production and are ‘disposed’ of shortly after hatching. Disposal methods include Co2 gassing where it can often take a gasping chick up to two minutes to die. Quick maceration is considered the more ‘humane’ method of killing that involves throwing the live chicks into a high-speed grinder.1
What these methods fail to address is that there is no way to humanely kill someone who wants to live. These industries bring these animals into existence only to dispose of them as garbage the next day. Unfortunately the fate of their sisters and mothers is even bleaker. In Australia around 12 million hens live out their short existences in tiny wire cages and the supposedly more humane barn-laying hens live in windowless sheds with tens of thousands of other birds. After 18 months, their egg production slows and battery, barn and free-range hens alike are all sent to the slaughterhouse.2 This one-way trip is often the first time these hens see the sun.
Producer, Product, Waste Product is a work that I hope inspires people to consider their role in the suffering of other beings and to question what is deemed to be ‘normal’ and ‘humane’ by these industries that profit from the exploitation and suffering of others. If you want to learn more about these industries or about more compassionate ways of eating and living, visit the Animals Australia website or join the Vegan ACT community for more information. To see more of my work visit my website www.shan-crosbie.com
1 ‘What happens with male chicks in the egg industry?’, RSPCA Australia.
2 ‘The Truth About Chickens’, Unleashed Animals Australia.