Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Chicken Catching

My friend, Don, is a chicken farmer. He makes a lot of money chicken farming because in Ontario we have "supply management" meaning chicken farmers are strictly limited as to how many chickens they can produce, with the effect that consumers pay more for chicken, and the right to produce chickens is worth millions of dollars. See this for more details about chicken farming.

Don's 24,000 chickens [this is small-scale, compared with many operations in the area] had to be sent to the processor on Friday night. You catch the chickens late at night because that is when they are groggy and sleepy, making them much easier to catch. You feel for their legs to grab 'em and pick 'em up in the dark.

Last night, the chicken catchers picked up three birds in each hand because the cages on the trucks are designed to hold 9 birds each of the size that Don raises. I went out there last night to observe/help. There was no way, at my age and state of de-conditioning, that I would catch 3 birds per hand, and it was clear that I would just be in the way if I tried. I limited myself to catching the strays that got away from the trucks they were being loaded onto.

The chickens don't like being caught, and it is not a pleasant job. Good, experienced chicken catchers can make good money, but it is hard work. Maybe this girl is in training....

I'm an omnivore; some of my children and grandchildren are vegetarians. I have no problem eating meat. In addition, I think people shouldn't be squeamish about watching it get processed if they want to eat it; but I understand that many, many carnivores happily pay others to do the butchering so they won't have to think about it.

Before I went out to "help", I thought I'd read up on chicken catching on the internet. One of the first articles I came across was this screed about how chicken-catching is "specie-ist". These are some folks with serious problems with their priorities if they really believe this:

In “For the Birds,” Washington Post writer Tamara Jones declared at the outset: “Yes, Karen Davis is serious when she says the extermination of 7 billion broiler chickens is the moral equivalent of the Holocaust”
There are machines available to do chicken-catching [big-time capital-labour substitution!]. The problem with them is that they must be disinfected between catches, and if a machine breaks down, it is like having no catchers at all and the crop doesn't get harvested at the correct time and weight.
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