Congress mulls law on cages for chickens
by Edythe Jensen - Mar 25, 2012 10:08 pm
Congress is considering new rules for chicken housing and the plan hatched in Arizona is an unprecedented compromise between egg producers and animal-rights activists.
The rules would mandate larger "enriched" cages where chickens could retreat to nests behind rubber privacy curtains, scratch on Astro Turf-like rugs and jump onto perches when they felt like it. Phased in over 15 years, the requirements would be costly to farmers who will have to expand barn space and replace equipment. But they are backing the measure.
Bettina, a Rhode Island Red Hen and union spokesman for local C.U. (Chickens United).
Me: Bettina, how long have you been involved with C.U.?
Bettina: Oh my, (ruffles feathers, dust mites float away in sunlight) I guess it started the day I pecked myself out of the egg.
Me: How do you feel about the compromise that's been reached between you chickens and the farmers?
Bettina: It's bittersweet Larainy. It's bittersweet. On the one wing, we're going to be a whole lot better off. On the other wing, it's a far cluck from a total free range environment which is where we belong.
Larainy: What's the mood among you fellow chickens?
Bettina: Let me tell you, the coop was really clucking this morning. It's the most important victory we've won since we successfully lobbied Chik-fil-A to enforce affirmative action. They've been using a talking cow ever since.
Larainy: What's more exciting, the astroturf or the rubber privacy curtains?
Bettina: Frankly, both are disappointing. Every chicken I know wanted a renewable flooring. Chickens are real environmentalists and bamboo would have put us over the moon.
Larainy: But of course, wasn't it the cow that jumped over the moon?
Bettina: Frankly, that old nursery rhyme is nothing but an extreme prevarication perpetuating superior bovine stereo-typification. Cows have never and will never jump over the moon. No, I was using a figure of speech. Give us chickens some nice coop to coop bamboo flooring and we'll lay more eggs than you can fry up in a month of Denny's Grand Slams.
Larainy: What about rubber privacy curtains? Are those going to be a help?
Bettina: Another huge compromise. Listen, can you really imagine HGTV giving your coop a makeover and suggesting hanging a rubber dish draining mat on the living room wall? It's hardly the best use of the space.
Larainy: But then again, I'm a human and I live in a house. You're a chicken.
Bettina: THIS INTERVIEW IS OVER! (Tries to fly off but is unable to get airborne)