10 facts you should know about factory-farmed chickens
Industrial meat chicken farming is one of the biggest causes of animal suffering globally. Yet most people have no idea about the suffering these intelligent, sensitive animals endure
Global chicken consumption is growing each year, so to keep up with demand, and so companies farming chickens for meat have significantly sped up the growing process.
However, in many cases the welfare of chickens is completely disregarded, leaving them to suffer miserably throughout their short lives.
Did you know?
- Around 60 billion chickens are reared for meat each year. 40 billion of these are raised in huge, crowded sheds, or cramped cages. They are kept in dismal conditions and suffer painful heart, skin, lung and bone problems and stress.
- Chicken is one of the world’s most popular meats. Between 1996-2016, demand for chicken meat grew almost 40% in the European Union, 89% in China and 183% in India.
- A factory-farmed chicken lives an average of 42 days. In the wild, chickens can live for several years.
- Many factory-grown chickens gain more than 50g in weight every day. However, their immune systems, organs and legs cannot keep up, so they suffer a range of physical problems as a result.
- Meat chickens are still babies when they’re slaughtered. Due to increased growth rate and shortened life span, chickens bred for meat may look fully-grown despite still being young.
- Only specific breeds of chicken are bred for meat. They’re genetically selected for their ability to reach ‘slaughter weight’” as fast as possible.
- Around 2,000 meat chickens are slaughtered every second around the world.
- Many meat chickens live in a space smaller than an A4 piece of paper. By the time they’re ready for slaughter, there’s barely space for them to move.
- Chickens love ‘dust-bathing’. They dig shallow holes to jump in, then cover themselves in dry dust and dirt. It’s an important natural behaviour, keeps feathers in good condition, and removes parasites. Factory-grown chickens are commonly prevented from dust-bathing and carrying out other important behaviours, such as pecking, scratching and perching.
- 71% of people never when ask where the chicken is from when buying it at a fast-food outlet. This insight came from our recent survey of 12,000 people.
Steve McIvor, our CEO, said: "This conveyor belt of rapidly-grown chickens comes at a price. Behind the world’s favourite meat is an unacceptable cost of suffering that is increasing as the global demand for chicken grows."
Progress of egg-laying hen welfare must be replicated
In recent years, more consumers have demanded higher welfare egg products. In response, several food companies, including Nestle and McDonald’s, have pledged to go cage-free for egg laying hens.
Unfortunately, however, the plight of meat chickens remains hidden. Most people don’t know about the endless suffering a meat chicken endures before it becomes meat on a plate.
Sign our petition to KFC
Join us in challenging KFC, one of the world’s largest fast-food retailers, to improve the welfare of billions of chickens in its supply chain.
We’re urging KFC to:
- Use chicken breeds that grow at a slower, more natural rate
- Allow more living space for chickens
- Provide more things for chickens to engage with and explore, such as perches and hay bales
- Introduce natural light in chicken sheds