The Truth about Chicken Farming

Mother hens’ communication with their chicks begins before the babies even hatch. A hen and chick will peep and cluck back and forth when the chick is still in the egg. Their bond begins to form before the chick even enters the world.


But farmed chicks born into hatcheries never get to meet their mothers. 


Confused baby birds are hatched into incubation drawers with no mother hen in sight. The chicks are placed onto conveyor belts on their first day of life. 


Assembly line workers will then mutilate the baby birds. The chicks will have the end of their beak cut or seared off in a process known as “de-beaking”. This is done to prevent stressed-out birds from attacking one another and lowering the value of the carcass. 

De-beaking a young chicken. This is typically done on the first day of life.

The chicks are then shipped as live mail to commercial growing sheds. Live shipping is extremely dangerous for baby birds. Hundreds of thousands of baby turkeys, chickens and ducklings alike are killed in this process every year. These are considered acceptable losses. Extreme weather events, postage delays, and shipping/handling errors can easily cut a baby bird’s life short in a painful and frightening way. 


The chicks arrive at commercial “barns” that bear more resemblance to warehouses. These crowded, windowless, metal sheds can house hundreds of thousands of chickens. Because it is impossible to clean the sheds with crowds of chickens inside them, the stench of ammonia and feces quickly becomes unbearable.


This causes both birds and factory farm workers alike to fall into respiratory distress. It is this reason that so many birds are routinely fed antibiotics from a very young age: to keep them alive in conditions that would otherwise kill them.


Cornish chickens (called “broilers” by the meat industry, and “peepers” by the sanctuary community) are selectively bred to grow at an extreme pace. These birds put on weight rapidly, especially when fed in unlimited amounts as they are on farms. Chickens are typically slaughtered between 5-7 weeks of age, with an average slaughter age of just 47 days old. In 1955, the typical slaughter age for a chicken was 70 days of age. 

A typical “growing shed”- artificial lights take the place of the sun.

Growth at such an intensive pace causes many health issues in modern chickens. Leg and foot issues, heart problems and a tendency to overheat are only a few problems that farmed chickens often suffer from. Many will die before they are even sent to slaughter. But some might argue that these are the lucky ones.


Like all animals farmed for their bodies, chickens’ brief lives all lead up to the day they are sent to slaughter. For many, the day they are packed tightly into slaughter crates is the first and last time they will ever see the sun. The journey to slaughter is highly stressful. There is not a single regulation restricting “livestock” transportation in extreme weather. Birds often face harsh conditions on exposed, open-air semi trucks.

Chickens are still babies when they are shipped to their deaths. 


The U.S. Humane Slaughter Act mandates that large mammals be stunned before having their throats slit. However, this law excludes birds and rabbits.


Chickens are hung upside-down in shackles for slaughter. While some slaughterhouses use electrified baths to stun birds prior to slaughter, this is not a legal requirement. Many birds will still have their throats slit while fully conscious. 


All chickens will find themselves on a crowded truck to slaughter at the end of their lives. This includes those from farms with slightly better welfare practices.

Animal Place encourages our supporters to eliminate animal products from their diets on behalf of the animals who suffer so greatly at the hands of these cruel industries. Like all animals, chickens deserve better.


Written by Chelsea Pinkham

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