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

This poor guy is stuck in the chicken matrix.
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.”

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]