Researchers Ask: What Makes Chickens Happy?
How do you measure a chicken's happiness? Is it in the way it runs for food? Or by how much time it spends cleaning itself?
To find the answers to these questions, researchers in Canada are putting 16 kinds of chickens through a series physical and mental tests.
They are watching how well the birds can climb over a barrier for food, how nervous they appear and whether they play with a fake worm. Chickens cannot say how they feel, but researchers believe that playing with the worm might be a sign of happiness.
The researchers are with Ontario's University of Guelph. Stephanie Torrey is one of the researchers. Torrey said the animal welfare world wants to do more than just reduce suffering. Now, researchers aim to learn if and how animals can really enjoy their lives.
Supporters of animal welfare say the poor treatment of chickens begins with birds that have been bred to have breasts so big they cannot fully walk. They say today's chickens are unusually huge and in great pain. They say the industry needs to change breeds.
Many in the chicken industry say there is no problem. They say that broiler chickens – the most commonly used bird -- may not move around a lot because they do not have a lot of energy. Even if the industry agreed to change breeds, it is not clear what the new birds should look like.
The two sides also disagree about the cause and frequency of health issues among chickens.
Chicken companies Tyson and Sanderson Farms, for example, admit that the size of chicken breasts has increased greatly over the years. But both say they are not seeing widespread problems as a result.
John Glisson of the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association says broiler chickens are especially inactive by nature. Some people may mistake the birds' inactivity for a medical problem.
The industry says changing chicken breeds would be costly in several ways. Changing to broiler chickens that do not grow as big or as fast would mean using up more water and other resources. Chicken prices at food stores would be higher, too.
Still, animal welfare is becoming a bigger public image concern. Companies say they are always looking for ways to take better care of their chickens.
Tyson recently ran a trial in which it let chickens choose from living areas with differing levels of light. And company Perdue is testing giving its usual birds as much light and space as its organic birds.
The Humane Society of the United States says improving chickens' living conditions helps. But, it believes the bigger problem is breeding that has resulted in misshapen chickens. It says chickens have been genetically changed to be so huge that their legs cannot support them.
"It is crazy for anyone to have to remind the industry that birds naturally walk," said Josh Balk, the Humane Society's vice president of farm animal protection.
Balk said the study in Canada will provide important information on what breeds of chickens might suffer less.
University of Guelph researchers are also examining chicken qualities such as weight, growth rate and meat quality. They hope the information will be useful to the industry.
Several companies say they already track health and welfare themselves. Still, they are interested in the research.
The Guelph study is supported by the Global Animal Partnership, which certifies corporate animal welfare requirements. In 2016, it launched a campaign to get companies to change to "slower growing" breeds of chickens. Since then, it has admitted that chicken welfare is more complex than just growth rate.
It is now pushing for a "better" chicken, and hopes the study will help define what that means.
I'm Ashley Thompson.
1.aim to 致力于
They aim to clear every dealer from the street.
2.take care of 照顾
I take care of them to the best of my abilities
3.public image 公众形象
The prime minister's public image has improved.
4.growth rate 增长率
Our average growth rate is lower than the US, India and China.
5.The industry says changing chicken breeds would be costly in several ways.
in several ways 在一些方面
The plan is bad in several ways.
I recently spent a year in Norway, and this changed me in several ways.
6.Since then, it has admitted that chicken welfare is more complex than just growth rate.
Since then 从那以后
Since then he has been drawing a pension.
Since then I've been waiting on events.
他们正在观察这些鸡如何顺利越过障碍物觅食，它们看起来有多紧张，它们是否与假虫子玩耍 。小鸡无法用言语表达感受，但研究人员相信，与虫子玩耍可能是一种快乐的表现 。
研究人员来自安大略省圭尔夫大学 。斯蒂芬妮·托里是研究员之一 。托里指出，动物福利界想做的不仅仅是减轻动物的痛苦 。如今，研究人员的目标是观察动物是否以及如何真正享受生活 。
动物福利的支持者表示，虐待小鸡是从改变鸡的品种开始的，人们培育过度生长的，胸部大到无法完全行走的鸡 。如今的鸡体型庞大，它们很痛苦 。他们说，这个行业需要改变品种 。
许多养鸡业人士表示，培育过度发育的鸡没有问题 。他们说，最常食用的鸟类——肉鸡可能不会常走动，因为它们没有太多的能量 。即使业界同意改变品种，也不清楚这种新品种的鸡会长什么样 。
例如，泰森鸡肉食品公司和桑德森农场承认，这些年来，鸡胸的尺寸大幅增加 。但双方都表示，他们没有发现因此引发的普遍存在的问题 。
美国家禽和蛋类协会的成员约翰·格利森说，肉鸡天生不活跃 。有些人会误认为这类鸡的不活跃是健康问题所致 。
该行业表示，在某些方面，改变鸡的品种代价高昂 。如果改养成长慢，发育缓的肉鸡，意味着会消耗更多水和其他资源 。那么鸡肉价格也会水涨船高 。
不过，动物福利组织逐渐形成一个令人担忧的公众形象 。公司表示，他们一直在寻找更好地喂养鸡的途径 。
泰森食品公司最近进行了一项试验，让鸡从光线不同的生活区进行选择 。铂杜公司正在测试给普通鸟类和有机鸟类一样多的光照和空间 。
美国人道主义协会称，改善鸡的生存环境将有所帮助 。但是，该协会认为更大的问题是饲养导致鸡出现畸形 。他们表示，鸡的基因已经发生巨大改变，小鸡的腿根本无力支撑身体 。
圭尔夫大学的研究人员也在检测鸡肉质量，如重量、生长速度和肉质 。他们希望这些信息对养鸡行业有帮助 。
数家公司表示，他们开始关注鸡的健康和福利状况 。他们对这项研究还是很感兴趣的 。
圭尔夫的研究得到了全球动物伙伴组织的支持，该组织负责认证企业的动物福利要求 。2016年，该公司发起了一项运动，要求企业改用“慢速生长”的鸡肉品种 。此后，它承认，鸡的福利增长比鸡的数量增长更复杂 。