When I was about ten years old I went on a vacation to Minnesota with my family. It was obvious, even to my young mind, that Minnesota had suffered a series of stormy weather conditions. My aunt explained that there had recently been a small tornado that had swept through the state. We spent several days touring the area to see the damage that had been caused. One particular thing that stuck in my mind was the damage that had been caused on a local small but mass producing chicken farm. Everyone was amazed at the destruction that had been caused to the building itself. The tornado had completely ripped off the roof and the majority of the walls. What overwhelmed me the most, and I just couldn’t get over, was the amount of dead and live chickens scattered over the property. They were everywhere; there must have been hundreds or thousands of them. Besides the gloominess of the dead bodies, my first thoughts were, “How did all of those chickens fit into that tiny little building or did the tornado sweep away more buildings than just what we could see?” Even from a distance you could tell that there couldn’t possibly have been enough floor space for even half of them to be able to comfortably move around. They had to have been really crammed in there, practically stacked on top of one another. The other thing that occurred to me was the lack of concern over the carnage. To most people, they are just chickens and not really animals. This was the start of my curiosity about chicken farms and where the meat we consume comes from and how those birds are raised. After doing a great deal of research, and having raised 8-10 chickens of my own, I found that the facts were much more disturbing than I had expected.
The chickens live in complete misery and many of them don’t even make it through their first 6 weeks of life. A University of Georgia’s College of Agriculture and Environmental Science (CAES) did a study on a typical flock that had a 3% mortality rate over 6 weeks. This means that on average of 750 birds die in each house within their first 6 week and very short life span. (5)
40 Billion Chickens, often called Broilers, are raised and killed for their flesh in the world each year, (5) about 9 billion of those come from the United States. (2) 99% of them are kept in total windowless confinement from the time they hatch until they are slaughtered. More chickens are raised and killed for food than all other land animals put together, and yet there is not one federal law that protects chickens from abuse. Although two-thirds of the population says that they would support the law (3) these birds are simply treated as production units and their wellbeing is not taken into consideration.
These chickens start their lives out in incubator drawers at a chicken hatchery and are then delivered to the building they will live in for the rest of their lives until slaughtered. Shortly after hatching, their beaks are cut off to protect the other chickens in case of a fight. (7.)
Broilers are kept in buildings called houses. Each house can be packed with up to 20,000 chickens. There are no regulations to the size of the buildings in relation to the quantity of chickens kept there. Because of this, in these buildings you will find overcrowded, panting, limping, lame, and even dead birds. Each chicken usually has the space of about an 8x11 sheet of paper but most often less. Generally the chickens will be covered in scratches and sores by the time they are taken to be slaughtered because they are being forced to trample over one another in the too small houses. Quite often, the feces builds, layer upon layer, under the chickens’ feet and the floors are often left untouched between flocks. Over time, the floors can be covered in the waste of tens of thousands of chickens. The breaking down of this waste can cause excessive ammonia levels which leads to difficulty...