Chicken Cannibalism

Our neighbor has taken a new “hobby”.  She has decided to raise chickens, yes, chickens in our downtown Cebu apartment compound.  I personally think she is bored out of her wits.  She has further decided to position the chicken coop at the left side of the gate.  Every time one passes by the gate, you are greeted with the smell of chicken crap.  She has also taken on an environmental vocation, turning chicken crap into some kind of fertilizer for her houseplants.  We hang our clothes along two clotheslines at the parking lot, our neighbor decided to dry the chicken crap just below our two clotheslines.  Flies swarm around the dump like bees. More like environmental hazard to me!

 One morning, a friend came to visit and passing by the chicken coop, he saw that one chicken was almost dying when all the rest were ganging up on it.  They were pecking on the tail and my friend also saw bleeding and some hanging guts.  The chicken did not survive.  Everyday, for three days, I always see our neighbor’s housemaid carry out another casualty.  Today, the chicken coop holds just three chickens, from its original count of 8 or 12.

 I read about chicken cannibalism.  They say, this is caused by the chicken’s urge to play out their foraging instincts.  When locked in a coop, chickens cannot walk around and forage.  In my neighbor’s coop, she crammed 8-12 chickens into a coop about 1 feet by 1 feet in measurement.  Good bye foraging.  Another cause is the lack of food.  I cannot blame the chickens, I swear there were times when I passed by the coop and I can almost hear them call out to me for food, I also saw it in their eyes.  Poor chickens.  I doubt if they get enough food and if they are fed at the right intervals.  It  was also said that sometimes, chickens also turn into cannibals if their source of food nutrients is mostly based on plant source protein like soya based feeds. 

 Limited space and limited resources turn chickens into cannibals.  I think it is natural, even with humans.  

 However, the problem with humans is that there are times when there is no real lack of resources.  It is only a perceived lack.  There are those among us who operate on a mindset of want and lack and limited resources.  Even with the most minute of things. 

 A classic example is the office politics.  Everyone has a role to play.  The subordinates, the supervisors, the observers, the ambitious go getters, the back stabbers, and the drifters, etc.  However, when any one of these people perceive some kind of lack, their natural instincts come into play.  Like a cannibal, this person can attack from behind, pecking on your tail, attack your gut or slowly peck your feathers off and then your skin until you bleed.  This lack can be true or not.   But cannibals are very real.

 Did one really need to create this mindset of “lack”?  Maybe or maybe not.  A lot of factors can come into play, this need may be created due to personal aspirations, professional growth, the urgent need for higher income, fulfillment, maybe just plain bad upbringing, lots of envy…envy…and envy.

 Was it the Bible that said “grow where you are planted?”  In time and with perseverance, the opportunity we long for will come.  Meanwhile, one may want to sharpen one’s beak and be ready for such time.  Do not peck on others behinds. 

 They say one of the remedies for chicken cannibalism is to add a richer mix of protein sources, mixing animal based protein sources with the regular chicken feed.  In the workplace for example, when one is faced with “high skill – high will” team members but do not have opportunities for growth, sometimes, a richer mix of activities and rewards to “excite” them will do the trick. 

 Some trim the chicken beaks.  Sometimes, in the workplace, the single most destructive weapon is the mouth.  The source of gossip, backstabbing, gripes, etc.  How do we trim our beaks?  Or shall we just go ahead and make pies out of these chickens?

 Another sure fire remedy is to let chickens loose, out in the open, not in a coop.  In an office setting, I would not want this to happen.  I see the office as an organization, not a coop. It is a place where people work together towards one direction.  People, not animals.  And people bond and even when some people just tag co workers as co workers “only”, for me, I grow and develop friendships..sometimes…organizations grow to become a family.  Call me a mushy wimp, self righteous bastard, hypocrite, etc.  But God knows my heart.

 It will be really sad when resources are scarce that organizations just have to let go of some people to forage on their own or when people who perceive a scarcity feel the need to forage, someplace else.  But then again, just like the chickens, it may also work for everybody’s good!  Everyone stays alive, feathers intact.


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