Animal Studies Journal


Chickens are problematically embedded in the West and Global North as farm animals. Structures built for containing chickens including henhouses, industrial poultry sheds, shading devices and mobile poultry sheds, place chickens – naturally forest birds – into pastoral farming settings that are at odds with natural chicken familial structures and behaviours. I assert that structures built for containing chickens influence human–chicken labour. I support this claim through an investigation of chicken labour at poultry farms. I advance the concept of labour in human–animal studies by looking at labour culture from sociology and labour history scholarship centred around humans. How humans labour with animals contributes to the continuation of animal farming. The long history of chicken farming impacts cultural ideas about small-scale chicken keeping which have led to large-scale agribusinesses using marketing and promotional material in a way that masks more prevalent industrial practices. The structures built for the poultry industry are designed to further the status quo of industry even when working to reimagine that same industry. A critical analysis of how poultry husbandry structures are used in marketing reveals how human labour culture ultimately forces forest dwelling chickens into pastoral farming.