Sentience becomes the hundredth member of the Open Wing Alliance

Sentience is the first Swiss organization to join the alliance, which was founded in 2016. In doing so, our organization is committed to becoming an even stronger advocate for the interests of chickens at home and abroad.

Initiated by the Humane League, the Open Wing Alliance brings together 100 organizations from around the world working together to improve the lives of chickens in agriculture. Sentience shares the belief of our new partner organizations that chickens play a key role in the global factory farming system, and that campaigns for the welfare of chickens are significantly more effective than campaigns for other animal groups. This is due to the fact that both globally and in Switzerland around 95 percent of all animals slaughtered in agriculture are chickens, and that chickens have by far the most precarious living conditions.

Broiler chickens are only allowed to live for about 5 weeks before they are slaughtered. In their last week of life, they are so obese that they can barely stand on their feet. Many develop leg injuries or have cardiovascular problems because the heart no longer supplies blood properly to their oversized bodies. 2-4 percent of chickens die prematurely. Laying hens, on the other hand, are usually culled after about 15 percent of their natural life expectancy because their laying performance no longer meets farm requirements. They will by then have laid more than 300 eggs – instead of the approximately 15 eggs a hen in nature would lay in that time span.

During their short lives, chickens are often kept in conditions that would be unthinkable for other animals. A Swiss chicken only has about the size of an A4 sheet of paper of available floor space. In addition, only 20 percent of the pen needs to be littered. Sunbathing is often not possible due to the lack of sunlight; barns are too low for flying; a real social life is unthinkable in flock sizes of up to 27,000 animals. In large farms, chickens therefore not only have little space available for foraging, but also have to be satisfied with a substrate that is simply unsuitable.

Even though Switzerland abolished battery cages – the primary form of abuse that the Open Wing Alliance is fighting against – in 1992, there is still a lot to be done. A change in attitude is needed both in politics and among major distributors: it is high time that the suffering of chickens is finally taken seriously.

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