Chickens raised for meat (aka “broiler chickens”) are farmed more intensively than any other type of animal. Around 90 per cent of the 650 million birds raised for meat in Australia come from factory farms.
Because of society’s demand for cheap meat, chickens have been selectively bred and fed to grow at three times their natural rate. Newly hatched chicks are sent into filthy, windowless sheds – as dim light discourages movement and increases food intake – with 40,000 or more other birds.
Chickens on these grim factory farms are bred to grow so large so quickly that their legs and organs can’t keep up, resulting in heart attacks, organ failure, and leg deformities. Many become crippled under their own weight and die in misery from dehydration because they can’t get to the water nozzles.
An Animal Liberation exposé of the broiler-chicken industry in Australia found that the pelletised grain feed given to the birds tested positive for nicarbazin and salinomycin – drugs used to accelerate growth and help prevent the spread of disease caused by confinement and the concentrated buildup of faeces. For the chickens’ entire lives, the sheds aren’t cleaned, and a thick layer of waste builds up, burning the birds’ breasts and feet.
These suffering birds reach “slaughter weight” when they’re just 6 or 7 weeks old. They’re shoved into crates and driven to the abattoir, where they’re shackled by their legs and hung upside down. Their heads are plunged into an electrified water bath intended to stun them before their necks are cut – but this doesn’t always work. Some birds lift their heads and miss the electrified water or even regain consciousness as they bleed to death or are plunged into defeathering tanks filled with scalding-hot water.
Chickens are inquisitive social animals who enjoy scratching for food, taking dust baths, roosting in trees, and lying in the sun. But those raised on Australian factory farms never get the opportunity to do any of these things.
Every time we sit down to eat, we have the chance to help prevent these animals’ unnecessary suffering. Try vegan today.