Young people of all ages are easily engaged by the welfare of farm animals, and there are many opportunities to integrate this into the curriculum and a range of school and higher education subjects as well as resources for Parents with children of all ages.
Comments from teachers and lecturers are very much valued and help us to evaluate and improve our educational resources. Please feel free to contact us or use our evaluation form. The views of students would also be much appreciated.
Case study to help students understand the advantages and disadvantages of selective breeding and its ethical implications.
The chicken breast in this picture has white stripes. Some of the muscle fibres have died or degenerated. Programmed for fast growth, the muscle’s blood supply was not sufficient to provide enough oxygen to support its development.
The muscle has been replaced by fat and connective tissue. This is called WHITE STRIPING. It is a recognised muscle disorder in modern farmed chicken. It is a consequence of selective breeding for fast growth and larger breast muscles.
If you look at chicken breasts on sale in supermarkets, you are likely to find that white striping is common in standard intensively-reared chicken breasts, though the stripes are usually finer than in the photograph above. More than 90% of UK chickens are intensively-reared.
In a similar way, chickens grow too fast for their joints, resulting in painful lameness. They grow too fast for their heart and circulatory system, resulting in chronic heart failure. Chickens become very inactive.
Fast growth helps to produce cheap chicken using less feed, but at a cost to the welfare of the chicken and the nutritional and health benefits of the meat. Are there better ways of feeding people efficiently with more nutritious food?
This set of resources helps students to identify white striping in chicken breasts and to consider the advantages and disadvantages of selectively breeding chickens for fast growth. It facilitates a practical homework – a survey of supermarket chicken to see if white striping is equally prevalent in standard intensive vs higher welfare chicken breast fillets.
Teachers’ Notes. Lesson plans, curriculum links, learning objectives and variations.
Does Your Chicken Have White Stripes? - students’ discussion booklet. Background information, discussion questions and photo-identification exercise. Enables students to recognise white striping. It includes information and discussion questions to help them understand the advantages and disadvantages of selectively breeding chickens to grow faster and with larger breast muscles.
Supermarket survey worksheet. Handy worksheet for recording results with instructions and FAQs to help students work out what they are looking for.
Evaluation sheet. The current resources are a “Beta version.” We are hoping to improve them based on comments from teachers and students. Please help!
We are planning more resources on white striping. Please tell us what would be helpful at email@example.com. Please watch this space.
Films & other resources on selective breeding
Farm Animals & Us 2 film. Includes a short 3-4 minute section on chicken farming, 5 minutes 48 seconds in, to stimulate discussion and widen their understanding of intensive chicken farming and its alternatives.
Farm Animals & Us film. 17 minute film discussing intensive animal farming and its alternatives in pigs, hens, chickens and cows. It includes a section about intensive schooling where students role-play the lives of intensive chickens. You can also use the longer 25 minute film above, especially for abler students.
Teaching resource for exploring values. Ten questions. Students examine their attitudes to the use of animals for food including intensive farming, organic farming, cloning, fishing, fish farming and whaling. A great lesson starter, guaranteed to engage! Includes lesson plans.
Students love doing personality tests! Actually, this is an exercise in analysing attitudes to animal issues.
Each question breaks down into four viewpoints:
Environmental / sustainable development
Anthropocentric / humans come first
At the end of the quiz, students work out which is their viewpoint. This leads to a class discussion of different ethical approaches.
This can be used to consider ethical issues in science, citizenship, geography, moral and religious studies, English and any other subject that would benefit from a discussion of values or from a better understanding of how our food is produced.
This is an activity for all ages from upper primary to university level! The teachers’ notes detail how the activity can be differentiated. There are two versions of the quiz- Version 1 has a reading age of 12 which is suitable for all age groups above this, Version 2 has a reading age of 9.
Children of all ages care about animals, and can be engaged by a consideration of how they are treated in farming. Meanwhile, the way our food is produced is a growing topic of debate in society, of importance in Citizenship, science, geography, moral and religious studies, English and any other subject which would benefit from engaged ethical discussion.
The stimulus material in this exercise is presented in groups of four cards, each of which describes a system (or issue) in animal farming. For example, hens can be kept in battery cages, colony cages, barns or free-range. Students discuss the rights and wrongs of each system and whether or not they agree with eggs being produced in these ways.
The cards can also be used:
In sorting activities to increase understanding of different methods of farming
In role play activities to consider the views of different interest groups such as consumers, farmers or animal welfare supporters
As a source of information
Additional information is provided on the back of each card for extension work. This material also lends itself to differentiation in mixed ability groups of students. We recommend that this resource is used in conjunction with Farm Animals & Us (for ages 10-14) or Farm Animals & Us 2 (for ages 14-adult).
You can download this educational resource:
As a set of cards (presented on A4 to be cut out individually)
This new resource has been developed from the Where Do You Draw the Line? activity in our Farm Animals & Us teachers’ pack. We plan to develop similar resources to cover ethical issues around selective breeding and the environmental impacts of farming systems.
Warning – film contains scenes of intensive farming including animal confinement and separation of young animals from their mothers which some will find distressing.
Farm Animals & Us.18 minutes. Start times of individual sections are shown below in minutes and seconds.
Introduction and animal sentiency
Development of intensive farming (4.56)
Intensive chicken farming, including selective breeding (5.47)
Intensive dairy farming, including effects of selective breeding (9.02)
Intensive pig farming (10.02)
Intensive egg production (12.10)
Food chains and efficient food production (13.30)
Alternative systems of production and personal choices (14.45)
Using the film with students of different ages
Older primary (10-11)
Use the film to engage 10-11 year old children in the rights and wrongs of intensive animal farming. Extracts from the teachers’ pack including Where Do You Draw the Line? and Personality Test Version 2 are particularly suitable.
Lower Secondary (10-15)
This film and the associated activities in the teachers pack are ideal for students aged 10-15.
Upper Secondary to adult
You may prefer to use Farm Animals & Us 2 which is aimed at ages 14 to adult and is more detailed. However, Farm Animals & Us has also proved suitable for older students where a less detailed film is required.
Warning – film contains scenes of intensive farming including animal confinement, separation of young animals from their mothers and one short clip of piglet tail-docking which some will find distressing.
Farm Animals & Us 2.26 minutes. Updated 2014. Start times of individual sections are shown below in minutes and seconds.
Pig behaviour and welfare – intensive and alternative systems (1.26)
Chicken behaviour and welfare (7.00)
Intensive and alternative systems of egg production
Intensive and alternative systems of chicken meat production, including selective breeding
Intensive dairy production and its alternatives (12.57)
Farm animal sentiency (18.42)
Human food chains and efficiency (22.09)
Personal choices (23.25)
This film was produced for students aged 14 to adult. Where time is limited, you may prefer to show the less detailed Farm Animals & Us which is aimed at ages 10-15 but has proved suitable for older students where a shorter film is required.
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Hope for the future
A legacy gift of love and hope can make a big difference for farm animals.