For India to become the world’s fifth-largest egg producer and the eighteenth largest producer of broilers, the poultry industry has cut many corners and caused great misery to millions of birds. In the process, it has not only spread a large number of diseases to humans but is also responsible for all humans ( vegetarians as well since chicken feces is used as fertilizer) to be almost completely immune to antibiotics.
Over the last 30 years, I have written many times about the poultry industry and what diseases the birds suffer from – and what they give to humans. You should know how each bird is created.
Most chickens in India are born through artificial insemination. Those women who are unable to conceive naturally go through the IVF procedure and they know how delicate and painful it is. Put yourself in the place of the male or the female chicken.
Artificial insemination starts with the collection of semen from the male. The male is restrained by catching him roughly with his wings and legs, tossing him upside down, rubbing his abdomen and back region towards the tail roughly and many times till his copulatory organ protrudes. The worker squeezes the region surrounding the sides of the organ till the semen comes out forcibly from the ducts of the copulatory organ. The extent to which a breeder has to struggle with a male before it is captured and restrained varies tremendously. In some poultries feathers are first clipped or plucked out ( causing even more pain ) around the vent area to give the poultry worker easy access to the male organ. The collection of semen is carried out daily – few males survive the breeding season.
Then it is the turn of the female who is dragged out and held upside down while a syringe is shoved into her reproductive tract and the semen deposited. Similar to the process of semen collection, vaginal insemination of the hen involves preliminary rubbing of the back and abdomen for stimulation. This is followed by applying pressure to the hen’s abdomen around the vent causing a protrusion of the vaginal orifice. An inseminator (like straws, syringes, or plastic tubes) containing the semen is inserted 2.5 cm deep into this opening for semen to be deposited. AI guns are also used nowadays to shoot semen in.
In 2016 the international organization Anonymous for Animal Rights visited major hatcheries in India that breed chicks for both eggs and meat. They wrote that they witnessed workers without gloves extract semen from male chickens, wounding many in the process of pinning them down. They forcibly dragged hens out of their cages and injected all of them at one assembly line, hurting them and injecting them with semen – using one unsterilized syringe for all. The hens are then shoved back into the filthy cages. Improper handling and lack of hygiene obviously result in contamination of semen with harmful microbes which are transferred to the hen and progeny, as well as humans. In almost every bird that was inspected, it was found that they had swollen and infected genitalia. If it isn’t the slaughter that kills these chickens, the stress of the breeding season destroys their immune system, leading to liver infections and parasites of the blood and intestine.
Researchers have shown many times that pathogens are spread with an unclean unsterile and rough way of artificial insemination: Infectious Bronchitis Virus (IBV) , Avian Leukosis Virus (ALV), Chicken Anaemia Virus (CAV), Mycoplasma, Salmonella, Campylobacter. Salmonella viruses (causing Fowl Typhoid and Pullorum Disease)have been transmitted through semen. This germ settles in the ovaries of female chickens and these birds lay Salmonella-contaminated eggs. Thousands of people in India have become sick with salmonella and the contaminated egg is the major reason.
As the semen is pooled and then used to inseminate multiple hens, diseases like avian Spirochetosis, a highly fatal septicemic disease of birds, can easily spread throughout entire flocks. Birds with the disease develop paralysis, become anemic and fall comatose. Semen can also be contaminated with pathogens like Egg drop syndrome-76 virus, Avian encephalomyelitis, and Avian Reovirus, etc. (Senthilkumar et al.,2003). In fact, there was an epidemic of Avian encephalomyelitis in Tamil Nadu in 2016.
Escherichia coli which is contagious to humans and Chlamydia can also be transferred during AI since the excretion/secretion point of both urinary and reproductive systems is the same in birds. Front. Microbiol., 03 December 2019 revealed the prevalence of virulent E. Coli in poultry.
Because of the rough, unclean handling at hatcheries, India’s AI success rate is much less than other countries. Most of the sperm of the male bird becomes invalid because of the way in which it is squeezed out. Rough handling develops an extreme fear reaction, which affects the semen volume during ejaculation. To compensate for the impotency of sperm caused by manhandling, scientists at the Central Avian Research Institute under ICAR have come up with a semen diluent to make it more efficient in the laboratory. A simple thing like making the semen extraction less painful and cleaner would of course not occur to our scientists.
But even the diluents can be contaminated and cause an infection of Campylobacter or Salmonella (Cole et al.,2004; Buhr et al.,2005). Poultry farmers and veterinarians are at high risk of contraction; people with the Campylobacter infection usually have diarrhea (often bloody), fever, and severe stomach cramps. Zoonotic diseases like avian influenza and Newcastle Disease (ND) have been a constant threat to the process of artificial insemination as they can spread through bodily fluids. Exposure of humans to ND-infected birds (e.g in poultry processing plants) can also cause conjunctivitis and influenza-like symptoms.
Why is Artificial Insemination necessary at all? Because chickens, especially broilers grown for meat, kept in poultries have very low fertility because of their intense genetic selection and hormone additions for conformation ( broad chests, heavy muscles, and short legs) and heavy bodyweight and because they are generally so sick and in so much pain. Their unnatural weight gets in the way of any natural mating. Also as the emphasis on faster growth rates in broilers is intensified, fertility in males declines due to the negative relationship between growth and fertility.
A study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information in the US conducted research that concluded that chickens are just as cognitively, emotionally, and socially complex as any other being. Within days of hatching, baby chicks can perform complex tasks, including basic arithmetic, self-control, and basic structural engineering – skills that don’t develop in humans until much later. Hens also have long-term memories of events and individuals and can communicate using distinct vocalizations that express a wide range of information about nesting, mating, contentment, food discovery, danger, and fear. These social, sensitive, intelligent birds navigate using the sun, which helps them to find food and water, and even have a sense of time.
The normal mating of a rooster and hen is a delight to watch. The rooster will exhibit courtship behavior: dropping one wing and dancing in a circle (the lowered wing will be on the inside of the circle dance). The hen will crouch (dip her head and body) to indicate receptiveness to the male. The rooster will then mount the hen and grab her comb, neck feathers, or the skin on the back of her head or neck to help hold onto the hen’s back. The rooster dips his tail to the side of the hen’s tail and spreads his tail feathers so that their cloacae come into contact. At this point, the rooster’s ejaculate is released directly into the hen’s vagina via her cloaca. Everything has to be gentle. A female will avoid an overly aggressive male. So imagine her fear and pain at the brutal rape that takes place weekly by poultry workers.
Don’t eat chicken. Don’t be a party to this brutality.
Maneka is an Indian Politician and a member of the Lok Sabha, the Lower House of the Indian parliament, and a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party. She is Sultanpur MP and former Women and Child Development Minister is an animal rights activist. She is the Author of etymological dictionaries and books on animal welfare. She is the founder-chairperson of People for Animals organization. Views are personal. To join the animal welfare movement, contact- firstname.lastname@example.org, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org.
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