Philosopher Paul Thompson from Purdue University has suggested “The Blind Chicken Solution.” He argues that chickens blinded by “accident” have been developed into a strain of laboratory chickens that don’t mind being crowded together as much as normal chickens do. As a result, he argues, we should consider using blind chickens in food production as a solution to the problem of overcrowding in the poultry industry. He argues that it would be more humane to have blind chickens than ones that can see.
But Ford goes a step further and proposes a “Headless Chicken Solution.” This would involve removing the cerebral cortex of the chicken to inhibit its sensory perceptions so that it could be produced in more densely packed conditions without the associated distress. The brain stem for the chicken would be kept intact so that the homeostatic functions continue to operate, allowing it to grow.
Ford proposes this solution for two reasons: To meet the rising demand for meat, particularly poultry, and to improve the welfare of the chickens by desensitizing them to the unpleasant reality of their existence.
A challenge for Ford’s system would be the lack of muscular stimulation. However, Ford proposes using electric shocks similar to that used in other lab meat experiments.
The likeness to The Matrix has not gone unnoticed by Ford. “The similarities are patent, although in The Matrix the dominant species were kind enough to provide the subspecies with a (sic) alternate reality, which was far better than the their ‘real’ post-apocalyptic world,” he told us. “This was a lovely gesture by ‘The Machines,’ but the chickens in this system will not be privy to such a luxurious appendage to an already elaborate system, especially in this age of austerity.”