Assuming Chickens Suffer Less Than Pigs Is Idle Speciesism
An Animal Rights Article from

FROM Marc Bekoff, Psychology Today / Animal Emotions
April 2020

GUEST POST from Karen Davis, PhD, UPC United Poultry Concerns

An essay called "From Shepherd to Advocate" smacks of groundless claims...

Nigel Burroughs
Illustration by Nigel Burroughs, Nature’s Chicken - “Please stop ranking us as to who is “smarter” or more “emotional”!

Upon reading "From Shepherd to Advocate" by Sentient Media founder Mikko Jarvenpaa, I made a note: “He would choose to inflict suffering on birds over mammals. He considers human life and experience more valuable and desirable than the life and experience of other animals.” Jarvenpaa also writes that after exploited humans, the pig, “rather uncontroversially,” is the “next most intelligent exploited animal.” Jarvenpaa's essay reminded me of a piece Marc Bekoff wrote called "Are Pigs as Smart as Dogs and Does It Really Matter?" in which you argued that pitting animals against each other in terms of intelligence or how much they suffer not only is bad science, but also harmful.2

Concerning Jarvenpaa's claim, we do not know the mental capacities of any animal well enough to conclude that a particular type of animal is without doubt the most intelligent or the least intelligent, or number two, five or eight on a cognitive scale of ten. All such scales are existential nonsense. In his essay, Jarvenpaa writes: "[I]f I was forced to cause a proportionally similar amount of suffering to a chicken or to a pig, say, suffering equivalent to that of a lost limb, I would choose to cause the suffering to the chicken because I assume that action to cause less suffering both in quantity and—perhaps more controversially—in quality."

First let us look at the lost limb example, followed by the question of “quantity” of suffering in chickens versus in pigs, and then at the link between these two instances. The question of surgically and genetically mutilating animals and the suffering they experience in being thus mutilated has been studied for decades. Animals including chickens, turkeys and ducks have been systematically tortured and continue being tortured in experiments designed to extract “confessions” of suffering (suffering in the form of injury as well as the sensation of injury, as not all injuries are consciously perceived by the injured) from their bodies and minds....

Access the entire article here: Assuming Chickens Suffer Less Than Pigs Is Idle Speciesism (PDF)

Return to Animal Rights Articles