Command livestock

Let's just take a fanciful look at what might happen when “retired” Lt-colonel X is charged with responsibility for increasing livestock production.

He decides that egg-laying might be most easily increased by military methods. He is given a battery hen house with about 10,000 birds to demonstrate the method. He walks in to the building, full of little wire cages each containing a hen which can’t even turn around or stretch its wings. They are only there to eat grain and convert it into eggs.

Lt-Col X strides in and announces that as from today these chickens, which produced an average 0.9 eggs each per day, must now produce two eggs each per day, “as from today”. He walks to the first cage, points his gun at the hen inside and says: “You start. Lay an egg now!” The poor bird is so frightened it produces something else, but can’t lay an egg. The soldier gives it a burst from his AK and when the feathers settle, he turns to the other chickens. “Now you see what happens to slackers and saboteurs. I want two eggs from each of you by evening – or else!”

All 9,999 chickens are so frightened that none of them can lay any eggs for a month. Fortunately, a corporal whose mother kept 50 laying hens dissuaded the lieutenant-colonel from slaughtering all the chickens, but productivity took a long time to recover.

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