Chicken farming has become increasingly popular in the past decades in the United States, mainly because chicken meat is considered healthier and is also more affordable than lamb, beef, and pork. However, if you take a look at our recent article, you will discover some shocking truths about the industry that might change your perceptions for good. Let’s take a look at what you should expect from chickens grown in factory farms.
Chicken industry facts
The chicken industry is worth billions of dollars and it’s more profitable than ever. However, up to 90% of the total eggs consumed in the United States come from battery-caged chickens. The percentage isn’t smaller when it comes to poultry either, although more and more methods are developed in order to offer people a healthier, organic alternative to chicken meat.
Moreover, in the past few years, people have decided to take matters into their own hands and start growing chickens on their own, as a sustainable alternative to low-quality meat and eggs often provided by convenience stores and supermarkets. These people are interested in living a healthy life, so they decided to start growing chickens to have complete control when it comes to the feeding process and the living conditions.
Chickens are the most-killed animals for food
In an official report, PETA mentions that chickens represent “the most abused animals on the planet”. Each second, more chickens are slaughtered for food than all other animals combined, which might explain some of the reasons why factory farms easily cover the market demand.
With all these restaurants and fast-food menus containing thousands of chicken-based recipes, it comes as no surprise that most of these birds are only seen as profit by their owners and not as actual beings that should be treated with respect and care.
While we don’t condemn the choice of eating poultry, eggs, and any other foods directly obtained from animals, we must take a closer look at the conditions in which chickens are raised in factory farms.
What is chicken farming?
The process refers specifically to the breeding and raising chickens for their eggs and meat. Although there is a difference between broiler chickens (those raised for meat) and egg-laying ones, the conditions in which they live in factory farms are similar and utterly shocking for most people outside the industry.
The term refers to the female chickens that spend their entire lives laying eggs that will later end up on your table for breakfast or dinner. The general belief is that layer hens live better lives because they aren’t slaughtered for their meat like broiler chickens. However, the truth is that they are often exploited and can die of exhaustion.
They aren’t allowed to nest or look after their young ones as their sole mission is to lay as many eggs as possible. Most of these breeds have been genetically modified to increase their egg production at the costs of their health and even their lives.
Broiler chickens are those that are raised for their meat. They are also part of the poultry farming branch that allows eggs to be fertilized and increase production. However, the sad truth is that roosters or male chickens are immediately slaughtered after fertilization as they aren’t genetically engineered for meat and they cannot lay eggs either.
The female chickens that survive are kept away from their babies and continued to be raised solely for their eggs or for their meat.
Generally speaking, chickens can live up to 15 years if they enjoy a healthy and safe environment that doesn’t include mass farming. However, when raised in factory farms, they only live for around 42 days before they are slaughtered.
If left in their natural habitats, chickens reach maturity at around five months of age and deliver the highest-quality meat around the age of two-three months. However, in order to reach this maturity faster, most industrial farmers feed their birds with high-nutrient foods, growth hormones, and antibiotics in order to avoid any health problems issued by the sudden growth.
Ethical problems regarding chicken factory farming
As we previously mentioned, people are allowed to choose whether they want to eat meat or not. However, enjoying fried chicken legs or a delicious beef burger shouldn’t excuse the way most of these animals are treated.
Chicken factory farming is extremely controversial as it doesn’t provide decent conditions for chickens to grow or nest.
On their way to profit, most of these farms discard the basic needs of chickens and focus on cramming as many birds as possible in a small place and feeding them artificially to grow faster and be able to lay eggs. Some of them are simply slaughtered for their meat. Here are some things that we believe should change when it comes to large factory farms.
Separation before hatching
Out of the eggs that do get fertilized, the hatched chickens are separated from their mothers before birth. Although hens are wonderful and protective mothers, most of them don’t see any of their chicks as the eggs are taken away from them before hatching. They are further placed in special incubators under UV light and are left to hatch on their own.
Therefore, there isn’t any bond between the hen and her babies, which can lead to anxiety, and even depression in the long term. 24 hours after hatching, baby chicks are crammed in small boxes and further shipped to factory farms to be raised for their meat or for their eggs.
Once they reach the factories, most chickens are kept in less than decent conditions. Factory farmed chickens don’t have access to natural light and exclusively live indoors. Therefore, they won’t be able to ever smell the fresh air, take a sunbath or stretch their wings properly.
Unfortunately, even when they aren’t kept in battery cages alongside other 5-10 other chickens to lay eggs, most of these birds live in small places. Often enough, the barns are overcrowded and don’t allow chickens to roam, nest, rest or stretch their legs or wings.
Therefore, they are deprived of all essential conditions that keep them happy and help them provide high-quality meat and eggs.
In other words, factory farm chickens never see the sunlight but are kept under artificial lighting only that determines them to feed constantly and grow faster. They don’t know the difference between day and night and will never know how to find food on their own.
Because of this, most chickens develop anxiety and aggressive behaviors, as well as diseases. Therefore, they are often treated with antibiotics and other chemical substances that are meant to keep them alive until they reach 42 days of age.
Another important issue people should know about factory farms is related to the health of these chickens. No matter if they are kept in wire cages for laying eggs or are raised for their meat, most often these birds live in their own filth. Feces aren’t cleaned too often which leads to alarming levels of bacteria that might affect the birds and cause severe problems, including death.
Because they are genetically manipulated to grow faster, most of the chickens will suffer from bone deformities, heart failures, and bad organ development. Added to the daily stress of living in overcrowded places with no room to rest on their own, most of these birds end up delivering low-quality eggs and meat.