Chickens, Globalisation And The Forest King
The “Forest King,” or Giri Raja chicken, is a hardy, “dual purpose” breed of chicken accustomed to a scavenging diet while still exhibiting good growth and egg production. While Giri Raja chickens are unsuitable for factory farms, they could affect the ability of smaller farms to compete with large scale factory farm operations.
Currently, the global poultry industry is vertically integrated, where the independent smaller farmer has a minimal role and is less likely to be able to compete with large-scale producers. According to this article, “We are told that chicken meat is the most environmentally friendly meat to produce.”
But the article goes on to say that a “chicken shed housing 20,000 birds requires energy to run the automated systems on which it relies. The chickens’ feed may contain a large amount of soya – probably imported from the deforested Amazon. The ammonia which forms such an intrinsic ambience inside a chicken factory farm has to go somewhere. It may not be a greenhouse gas, but it is known to contribute to acid rain…”
The Veterinary College in Bangalore has introduced a new breed of chicken (Giri Raja) which can be used for meat and egg production. It is thought this will shift power away from large producers to smaller farmers. Of the 60 billion farmed animals currently slaughtered each year, according to the United Nations, 50 billion are chickens.