Someone Made a Virtual Reality Environment to Help Factory-Farmed Chickens Think They’re Free Range

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This poor guy is stuck in the chicken matrix. Photo: iStockphoto

Strap Oculus Rift to a caged chicken’s head, and what do you get? Virtual free-range chicken breasts with a hell of a USDA labeling problem, thanks to something that really does exist called Second Livestock, the Matrix for factory-farmed fowl. Using a yoga-ball-mounted trackpad, birds with nary a pasture around can roam in pastoral bliss — though now’s probably the time to add the creator, Austin Stewart, is a performance artist, and Second Livestock’s aim is to turn modern tech and factory farming on their heads, "to open a conversation about animal husbandry" and how "we increasingly use virtual worlds as an escape for our own boxed and caged lives."

This poor guy is stuck in the chicken matrix. Photo: iStockphoto

High-density Waste Zero chicken-coop skyscrapers notwithstanding, Stewart says he’s for real and "interested in partnering with a scientist if the test could [be] done without harming the chicken." The holdup? "It’s hard to say whether a chicken would accept the technology," he tells Modern Farmer.

Virtual Reality for Chickens [Modern Farmer]