Chicken has become a staple ingredient for most Australians and people around the world . Chicken and salad sandwiches, chicken burgers, chicken nuggets (eek), chicken roast and the list goes on. Over the period of a year, an average Australian will consume approximately 27 chickens, that's 500 million killed a year in Australia alone. In the USA its is around 7 billion! 90 % of chickens in Australia are raised in factory farms and these are some of the reasons why I do not recommend eating them.
Broiler chickens, as they are called when raised for their meat, are raised in huge sheds that hold up to 60,000 chickens at a time. Stop and think about that for a second. 60, 000. That is like being constantly crammed into a Big Day Out concert, without the good music. The space allocation is 20 chickens per square meter for the 6 weeks they are confined to these sheds.
The sheds are not cleaned for the 6 weeks the chickens are alive, which means they are forced to live amongst the feces and urine of 60,000 birds. The air becomes so polluted with ammonia, dust and bacterial spores, that it is hazardous to even the human workers. It is artificially lit, to control the birds eating and resting periods for maximum growth in a short as possible time and to try stop the fighting and frustration that occurs. They will never see the natural light or breathe fresh air. The chickens have been genetically bred to produce birds that grow at extreme rates. They reach the size of a fully grown adult in only 6 weeks. This brings a whole host of problems for the health of the bird, in particular with legs not being able to support the bodies of these birds, causing them to collapse and become immobile.
Due to these filthy living conditions and health problems, the chickens are fed a mix of antibiotics with their fed, otherwise the illnesses they suffer from would often kill them. In fact over 20 million do die in the factory farms each year!
You may think, so what. They are birds, not humans. They still have desires, can feel pleasure and can suffer.
Chickens have a intricate social structure and recognize up to 90 other birds. They communicate by personal sounds, they create a pecking order and instinctually scavenge for food, build nests and raise their young. This is all deprived to them in this way of life. When it is time for them to become our meals, workers catch them by their legs and with 5 chickens per hand, they shove them into crates and load them onto trucks. Often the chickens end up with dislocations and fractures due to the rough handling. In Australia, over 1 million of them die during transportation to the slaughter house. I wont go into that part here.
Over all this is a very unnatural, cruel way of raising a being and the result is an unhealthy piece of meat, full of antibiotics and often salmonella or campylobactor.
Three companies control over 80% of the chicken industry in Australia and they all practice factory farming. This is big business to them. Inghams produces 2.2 billions dollars revenue per year and the company sold for $880 million. It is about numbers, not the chickens.
As I will always say, not every diet works for every person. Not everyone will be a vegetarian. Not everyone want to stop eating chicken. But everyone is able to make the compassionate choice.
Eat organic chicken. For yourself, your family's health, the chickens well being and the environment.
Watch out for labels such as "Grain Fed", "Corn Fed", "Farm Fresh", Hormone Free", "Barn Raised", "100% natural". These are clever marketing tools to label- factory farmed.
If it is organic it will be labelled so.
Check out this light video on broiler chickens
Voiceless has an in depth report, "From Nest To Nugget" for a deeper look into the industry. Check it out here
There is also a 12 minute video on PETA website. Watch here