Architecture Student André Ford explores the moral dilemma of eating meat with his rather disturbing proposal for a lobotomized chicken factory that makes a startling statement on what the future of farming could look like. Less like raising birds and more akin to growing meat, the project offers a way of resolving the deplorable living conditions of the typical factory farm. Rather than adding more room to breathe though, the idea is to sever the birds' frontal cortex so that they would not be able to sense their environments. The Headless Chicken Solution’s logic is pretty extreme, but raises important questions about the hard reality that we create so much suffering just for a meal.
Ford’s proposal involves surgically removing the animal’s cerebral cortex but maintaining the lower brain functions so the body can continue to grow. Without the capacity to sense the environment the bird is arguably not in a state of suffering, which is a far cry from current farming practices.
The other effect is that the birds can be packed into a much more horizontal space in just about any type of building upping the productivity from 1 chicken per 10 cubic feet to nearly 4 chickens in the same area. Ford’s plan calls for removing the birds’ feet as well to make space. The design seems to make it easier to raise meat in urban environments, localising chicken farming.
The animal is fed water and nutrients though a tube to its esophagus and another tube removes the waste. The body is then strapped into a frame which can stack the bodies vertically. The design is vastly different from what we have ever seen outside of the movie The Matrix, a fact that Ford alludes too– “The similarities are patent, although in The Matrix the dominant species were kind enough to provide the sub-species with a alternate reality, which was far better than the their ‘real’ post-apocalyptic world. This was a lovely gesture by ‘The Machines’, but the chickens in this system will not be privy to such a luxurious appendage to an already elaborate system, especially in this age of austerity.”
We have to say that while we appreciate Ford’s out-of-the-box approach to trying to make raising poultry-birds a bit more humane, it can be argued that lobotomizing them in itself is a cruel and inhumane act. Ford’s ultimate goal behind this project may be for us to reconsider the way we approach the industrialization of animals for food and by taking it to its logical conclusion have us think before we take a bite.