HAVANA TIMES – Chickens, these kind and tenacious poultry, have accompanied humans for centuries. In Cuba, we sometimes find them standing in for pets, or treated as a strictly commercial good.
In Marianao, a neighborhood in the capital, it was quite normal to find chickens wandering about the sidewalk with their chicks… up until recently that is. This calm coming and going is an image I miss when I go to visit relatives. It’s nice to know that this absence isn’t widespread.
The purpose of poultry farming has varied over time. In the beginning, chicken farming to provide meat and eggs was normal, in spite of many families attentively caring for them and worrying about their health and diet, which meant they became a part of the family. After a long period of rearing, it’s pretty normal for owners to refuse to eat the chickens that wandered about their homes.
Unfortunately, the economic crisis that has hit the country right now means that old habits from the ‘90s have made a comeback, when incubators multiplied. It’s sad that so many fellow Cubans have converted rooms in their homes for poultry farming. Rooms where chicks are locked up all day and fed fodder to make them grow faster. It’s even sadder that the Internet is now being used to download videos showing new ways to make incubators at home, and entire families are getting in on the action.
With this in mind, to what extent can the natural growth process of a bird and its environment be violated, not to feed a family but to turn them into a commercialized good without this being a violation of their rights as animals?
It’s so nice to watch chickens constantly pecking at the ground, in their never-ending eagerness to find a seed in spite of swallowing a pebble here and there along the way, their loyalty, the love they have for their chicks, which reminds us of Cuban mothers, who make huge sacrifices and work so hard, making miracles every day with the food we have on our island, its shores lapped by the Caribbean sea.