Chickens do not have a reputation for being the smartest of creatures, but removing parts of their brains to completely desensitise them from the production environment does seem a bit OTT.
But that is the idea behind this little system put forward by an architecture student at the Royal College of Art.
Having studied the intensification of broiler production and reached the conclusion that it is “not entirely pleasant”, Andre Ford has set about designing his own system in which chickens are linked up to Matrix-style machines.
A fundamental part of the process is to remove the cerebral cortex of the chicken to inhibit its sensory perceptions, so that it can be reared in even more intensive conditions, without any distress.
Thousands of desensitised chickens would be stacked on large vertical frames, he told technology magazine Wired, with food and water delivered by tubes. Dozens of frames would then be stacked into vertical urban farms.
The birds would have their feet removed to save space and would be given electric shocks to stimulate muscle development.
Mr Ford believes his “Centre for Unconscious Farming” is not that far removed from modern broiler production, with the advantage that birds are unaware of their surroundings.
He also draws a parallel with sci-fi film The Matrix. “The similarities are patent, although in The Matrix the dominant species were kind enough to provide the subspecies with an alternate reality, which was far better than their real post-apocalyptic world.”
The things they get up to at art college these days….