Not far from my home in North Carolina is the world’s densest population of chickens. They live in small cages, as close to each other as any animal ever is to any other animal.

If the fowl rose up, they would be an army, but they do not rise up. They are numbed to their circumstances – wings clipped, overfed and yet undernourished. Like some strange island bird, they no longer fly. They just pace the land they have been given, a place of steel-grated floors and constantly lit skies.

Few of us ever see these chickens, but we can see the evidence: the enormous breasts and legs lined up neatly in shops and supermarkets. Where I live, we also see other things. Recently, I was driving with my family and came across what looked like litter. It was feather down – hundreds of thousands of white feather fragments, all of which had blown off the chickens being transported from a farm to their demise. Once, it was otherwise.

Continue reading (PDF) in BBC Wildlife Magazine