The Life of a Factory Farm Chicken
Over 9 billion “broiler” (baby) chickens, both males and females, are raised and slaughtered in the U.S. each year. That’s one million killed every hour. Worldwide, over 50 billion chickens are now being slaughtered every year. In the U.S. 9 out of 10 land animals killed are “broiler or meat” chickens. The 9 billion chickens raised for meat spend their entire lives in warehouse-like sheds, crowded in packed conditions, confined to tiny spaces where their natural behavior is thwarted, living in total darkness, forced to grow too fast with hormones, and living in filthy spaces and in their own excrement.
The life of a factory farm chicken:
- Broiler chickens are raised in near complete darkness, in filthy conditions inside windowless barren rooms, confined in complete overcrowding with up to 20,000 chickens together in grower houses, and live on manure-soaked floors that aren’t changed through several cycles of birds.
- Bird sheds are so contaminated with feces and left uncleaned and unsanitized for several bird cycles, that poisonous Salmonella and Campylobacter bacteria are quite common. These bacteria not only sicken the birds but can also cause food poisoning in humans.
- Excretory ammonia fumes are so strong that chickens are blinded and develop an eye disease called ammonia burn, which is so painful that birds continually rub their eyes with their wings and cry out in pain. In addition, the ammonia fumes cause painful skin conditions; heart congestion and swelling, hemorrhages, and severe respiratory problems.
- Confinement in sheds is so small that chickens cannot move, turn around, stand, or spread their wings.
- Mutilations – chicks, in order to live in such close confinement with other birds, go through a series of mutilations including being de-beaked, cutting off their combs, removing leg spurs on males, and clipping their toes, in order to minimize aggression caused by being confined.
- Broiler chickens, due to genetic manipulation forcing them to grow too quickly in order to develop overly large breast meat, cannot support their body weight or stand up, so they end up sitting in their waste much of their short lives. In addition, they suffer miserably from painful lameness causing them to be crippled in pain most of their lives.
- Broiler chickens develop leg deformities, skeletal and bone disorders, problems with ligaments and tendons, due to their inability to move, get exercise, and living on an insufficient diet lacking proper nutrition.
- Broiler chickens suffer from gastrointestinal and blood diseases, chronic respiratory infections from living in their waste, big liver spleen disease, heart disease, weakened immune systems, and ascites—a condition where the heart and lungs cannot support their body mass weight.
- Broiler breeders, the females used for breeding, are fed only a quarter the amount of food regular broiler chickens are given, to limit their growth and save money. These birds live in semi-starvation daily due to such a restricted diet and lack of nutrition.
- Before transport – before chickens are transported to slaughterhouses, they are “caught” at 1500 birds per hour, subjected to extreme stress, are injured, get dislocated hips, broken wings and bones, and internal hemorrhaging from being hurt during their capture.
- Transport to slaughterhouses – means being denied food, water, and shelter for up to several hours depending on the distance. Crates are often uncovered, birds are exposed to wind, rain, and extreme cold or heat. Many chickens die in transport due to hypothermia, heart failure and gangrene.
- Slaughter – there are no FDA regulations, so chickens receive no protections during the slaughter process, which means many are not even “stunned” before their throats are cut. They are often conscious through the entire process of having their throats cut after being strung by their legs upside down, then are boiled alive and conscious.
Actions you can take:
- Stop buying and eating chicken. If you substitute with free-range chicken, try to buy only from a local chicken farm or source where you know that the chickens roam free outside, can express their natural behaviors, can be indoors protected from cold and heat, and are treated humanely. You can also buy products with the seal on the packaging labeled “Animal Welfare Approved.” This certifies that the farms the animals were raised on maintained the highest animal welfare standards.
- Reduce eating chicken to once a week or every other week or once a month, and try to continue reducing your chicken consumption.
- Replace chicken with a non-animal, vegetarian alternative or substitute, available in local grocery stores, Whole Foods or natural food stores.
- Learn more about factory farms and industrial animal agriculture and why it’s such a significant threat to animal welfare, the environment, ecosystems, natural habitats and wildlife, and human health.
- When you dine out, ask local restaurants to buy only humanely raised meat from small local farms.
- Call your politicians and ask them to get involved and support animal welfare laws, and keep track of their voting record. Here’s some ideas.
- Spread the word! Tell others about factory farming. Share on social media and help get the word out!