Chickens are hands down the most slaughtered animal in the UK. Did you know that 56 billion are killed every year around the world? To farm this many chickens takes a lot of work, genetic modification and also drugs. I’m going to tell you all about it in this post.
How should chickens live?
If a chicken was to grow up as they should, their natural life would be around 8 – 15 years. They’d grow up on a diet of worms and grass and be hunted by the likes of foxes, weasels, birds of prey and coyotes to name a few.
Chickens have a wide range of personalities, much like humans. Some of them are very shy and like to watch from the sidelines. Others are fearless and like to get themselves involved with the others.
They all communicate with each other via clucks and research has shown they have thirty different types of clucks, which will all mean different things when talking to each other.
With chickens there also tends to be a ‘pecking order’ (excuse the pun). They will have a dominant one that dictates when they’re being a bit too naughty, much like humans would. They’re also very charismatic and will be playful with others – which is what can sometimes get them in trouble with the big ‘boss’.
Chickens raised for meat don’t get to enjoy life like natural chickens would. Once born, they’re rapidly fattened up, so they’re able to be slaughtered as quickly as possible.
Back in the 1940s, chickens raised for meat were slaughtered at around 20 weeks. Due to the demand, this is now 5 – 6 weeks, which is around 40 days.
As the farmers want to get these chickens to the slaughterhouse as fast as possible, they’re given a diet of grain and confined into small spaces. The rate at which they’re given food leads to a variety of suffering for them.
Many suffer cardiac arrest due to the strain on their hearts, the rapid growth also gives many of them crippling leg abnormalities as they’re not able to carry the weight – especially at the young age they are.
Read more on this here: The suffering of farmed chickens.
It may or may not come as a shock to you that due to the rapid growth farmers expect from their chickens, illness’ are rife. This is also down to the sheer volume of chickens houses in one place.
To prevent intestinal disease from the amount of food they’re eating each day, antibiotics are within their grain. It’s been noted that due to chicken, along with other meat sources, being given to animals, this is causing an antibiotic resistance in humans. You can read more about this here: Antibiotic use in farm animals ‘threatens human health’.
It’s also important to note that due to the rate chickens are fattened up, they’re no longer a ‘lean meat’ source. Per chicken, around 1 pint of fat is contained within the meat – not so healthy after all?
The breeding of chickens is also highly modified. Many farmers have selectively bred their herds to make sure they produce the most meat and don’t even get me onto the breeding of chickens for eggs – well, we’ll talk about that later.
Once the chickens have met their weight, they’ll be sent off to the slaughter house. It’s important to note that poultry isn’t protected by the ‘Humane Slaughter Act’ and therefore, can be killed in anyway the farmer chooses.
For many they’re shackled by their feet to a slaughter line. Along this is a mechanical blade that slits their throats, after their bodies are scalded to remove the feathers.
Due to the way the slaughter lines work, many of them aren’t killed by the blade. This means they’ll literally be burnt alive, which after already fearing for their lives as they’ve been shackled, is one of the worst sufferings they could encounter.
Due to the high speed of these slaughter lines, chickens are killed at a rate of 9000 an hour. In the UK alone 2 .5 million chickens are killed in a day. That’s 30 deaths a second.
Many chickens that produce eggs are battery farmed. Around the world, around 60% are raised this way. This means they live in wire bottomed cages with around a space for themselves of A4 paper.
Those who are ‘free-range’ tend to live in barns or averies. By law, they only need to have 4 square meters of land each – so many of the ‘free range’ farming methods still means there’s a lot of hens in one space.
Due to the little space they have, many of these chickens have psychological problems. Shortly after being born, they have their beaks sawed off. In the UK it’s illegal for this to be done with a blade but can be done with infra-red beam. This prevents them from pecking other chickens, due to being frustrated at their living conditions.
Hens that produce eggs will live for around 20 months to 2 years, as this is when their egg laying tends to slow down. At this time, they’ll simply be slaughtered and replaced.
If you’re a male chick born into the hen laying world, the future for you is very bleak. In fact, you’ll be killed on the first day of being alive. For many around the world death is met by going straight into a grinder – as the chick’s not big enough to be slaughtered. In the UK, all baby chicks not fit for use are gassed. From here, they’ll become feed for reptiles and other animals.
At the moment, there’s a lot of technologies that allow farmers to determine the sex of the chick that’s been born. This allows them to recognise whether it’s worth keeping them around or culling them within hours of birth. In the UK, workers are employed to essentially decide the fate of the chick. You can read more on this here: What happens to male chicks in the UK.
Swap: Chicken Vs Seitan
Chicken breast per 100g
Seitan per 100g
Let me know about any swaps you’ve made during Veganuary. I’m sure a lot of my readers will benefits from hearing about all the options we have available.
As always, if you have questions in relation to anything about Veganism or you’re simply enjoying these posts. Be sure to let me know, it helps me know what to right about next.
Love, always – B
Etsy shop: beccabynature