Chook, chook, chookie!

We picked up our meat birds on Tuesday. Despite my trepidation, all of them have made through the first couple of days with resounding success.

Laur and I cleaned their box today, which gave me an opportunity to take a couple poor quality photos, per request from my mother.

They are equal parts chilly and afraid - temporarily rehoused during a cleaning of their coop.

Back in their box.

And right back to the feeder.

It was a bit stressful for them. While some turn to food and drink for comfort, others set themselves down for a nap.
Sadly, they are rather cute. Sadly because all 25 are destined for the freezer.  The Boy has mentioned to several people that we have chickens, and many have asked for the names of the birds.  It is at this point I that I usually pipe in with "They're meat birds" and a knowing glance passes between us.

When I tell them that I'm having a hard time reconciling their cuteness with their destiny, a common reply seems to be along the lines of, "Don't worry, they'll get ugly".   Not only am I preparing myself now for the "processing" (aren't euphemisms lovely?) activities two months hence, but I am also wrestling with the notion that we find it more socially appealing to kill the ugly ones.  Is this who we are at the very core of our being? An animal who justifies killing on the basis of appearance?  Is this how we separate ourselves from this unsavoury future task?  "Kill the ugly ones" - how does this speak to the contemporary society and the battle against bullying?

I've often felt that if one eats meat, it's important to participate in the life and death of the food animal.  I now have the opportunity to put my money where my mouth is, to coin the phrase.  Can I placate my misgivings by telling myself that these birds will have a rather pleasant life and meet their demise without stress and fear (rather than the commercial alternative) or is this a red-herring I use to absolve myself of the difficult choice between vegetarianism and meat-eating? 

Or, am I being too sensitive to the destiny of the meat bird because I am not used to killing animals for my table? How badly do I want to eat meat?  There is no alternative for these birds, as they have been bred to produce massive table birds in a short period of time (8-10 weeks).  I have read that they will eventually become too large to stand upon their wee legs.  Ultimately, my feelings on their demise will not affect the outcome.   A good, albeit short, life and humane death is the only option now that they have been ordered, hatched, purchased and brought home. 

Of course I could sell them, give them away or release them into the wild (read: dog will not have any issue "processing" them).  It's true, these are options but neither are they realistic nor responsible (and therefore not really options at all).

These and many other philosophical issues are dancing about in my head and heart these days...

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