Pea-brained chickens? How rude!

The SF Bay Guardian published an article regarding the current California ballot measure that would ban gestation crates, veal crates and - shock of shocks- battery cages.

While "balanced", there are some rather outlandish comments made in the article. If you are of the letter-writing persuasion, please write to the editor of the SF Bay Guardian regarding this article. Regardless of your feelings on welfare reform, this is a chance to get farmed animals more press. Letters can be sent to Please keep letters under 200 words. Include your full name, address and contact phone number for verification. Police, concise letters are more likely to be printed.


Arnie Reibli, who manages a 160,000 hen operation in Petaluma, has this to say about the quality of his farm: "I use myself as a judge to see what my animals will like," he says. "I go into the building just as I am. If I'm comfortable without a mask, without any protection, then the birds must be too."

What specious logic! If he really wants a feel of a battery cage, he might consider setting up shop in a small closet with six strangers. No room to stretch his arms. A wire floor upon which to defecate. Perhaps the first digits of his fingers will be cut off to prevent scratching himself and others. More importantly, Arnie has the choice to leave. A choice denied to birds locked in metal cages.

Arnie continues, ""They don't have intellect. Chickens probably have brains the size of a pea."

For a "chicken farmer", he shows astounding ignorance of the species. Chickens have a language, and use representational signaling to communicate; behavior previously associated only with primates. Learning studies in England show chickens have a concept of the future. Their cognitive abilities when it comes to memory and spatial awareness are astounding.

Brain-size is hardly a determining factor in how animals are treated. Chickens can experience stress, fear, frustration, boredom. They have the biological and behavioral capacity to feel pain. And on the flip-side, chickens know what joy is, they experience the emotional ties bonds and friendships form. They are denied every positive behavior in a battery cage, and their intellect - which Arnie erroneously claims they lack - is crushed and battered by cruel confinement.

And farmers want us to believe they know these animals? Knows what is best for them? Even while they are incapable of seeing the amazing, emotional, intelligent beings right in front of them? Mind-boggling!


Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Reibli,
many people believe animals do not feel pain, stress, frustraton, sorrow and live in cramped, crowed environments. We humans ARE animals. We feel pain, stress, frustration, sorrow and live in cramped,crowed environments. We have the choice to roam around in open areas, take care of our needs, and eat good food. I had the honor to raise hens so we could sell fresh, organic eggs. We sold so many eggs each month that we had to put the four roosters in with some hens so that we could have more layers. We sold all the color of the rainbow eggs. The resson I say this is because our hens are cage free, live in somfortable hen pens with so much room that they can have their own space without other hens bothering them if need be. There are plenty of covered nest boxes, fresh water, fruits and veggies, vaccines, and vetrinary care for my girls and boys. Chickens are loyal, faithful and very loving. Treat our animals with love and in turn they lay delicious eggs everyday. Chickens have large brains. How do you think they know what the difference between a healthy eivironment and a disgraceful, sick enviroment is. Please, Mr. Reibli, give your birds a change for the beeter. You will be amazed how happy hens lay more eggs. I retired and passed my hens onto my daughter and her husband. The chickens are thriving better than before. No mutilation or beak, toes cut in order to have better layers. Trust in yourslef, It will work!
Best Regards,
Mrs. Shelia Robinson