Measuring Chickens' Emotional Wellbeing

Happiness is an elusive concept, it brings about ideas of ecstasy, contentment, delight but also health and strength, pouvoir and puissance ... a state of mind and body that is precarious and contingent. How to give form and substance to an idea that is otherwise difficult to conceive? What is happiness for a chicken? What is it like to be a chicken today? Free-range certification offers a powerful interpretation of animals' happiness in the context of farming, and it does so by providing a particular translation of the `natural' in the domesticated environment of farming. But it also offers a specific definition of materiality, in the form of the body of the animal, presented as an expression of her/his quality of life in the juiciness and other organoleptic qualities of her/his flesh or eggs. In this paper, I present the results of an on-farm assessment of the welfare of free-range chickens in the UK, carried out by adopting the Welfare Quality protocol. This is a new evaluation of the on-farm welfare of animals that encompasses many aspects of animals' lives, including animals' negative and positive emotions. It suggests that animals' `happiness' can be measured and can become part of an overall score of welfare, but it also addresses the complexities of the interpretation of the emotional states of animals. I propose that this case contributes to the debate on `material politics' and the invention of animals' happiness can be seen as a political technique that affects human ^ non-human
animal relations.

Miele M, 2011, "The taste of happiness: free-range chicken" Environment and Planning A 43(9) 2076 – 2090

It reminds me of the Posh Nosh episode. I can't help but feel that we've gotten our priorities all wrong.


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