How Big is the Factory-Farmed Chicken Problem?


a cartoon of a dirty factory farm

Modern factory farming has a serious animal welfare issue. And it’s exemplified by the large-scale mistreatment of birds.

In America alone, 9 billion chickens are raised and slaughtered for food every year.1

Chickens raised on factory farms for meat (typically referred to as broiler chickens) live crammed into dark, crowded sheds.


Though the meat industry may hope to evoke cheerful images of birds roaming in open fields, the fact is that 99.9% of chickens used for meat live on factory farms.2

a photograph of a chicken's face

The industry denies these birds natural light and fresh air. And it keeps them in feces-infested spaces that make fertile breeding grounds for disease.

a cartoon of a chick that is the same size as an adult chicken

Though chickens’ natural lifespan can be several years, companies breed these "broiler" chickens to reach full size when they are still very young.


The companies then slaughter these birds at just weeks old.

A recent report from The Humane League, conducted with independent investigators across the United States and in 85 major food retailers, found that 99% of chicken meat sold showed evidence of white striping disease.3 That's a condition in which chickens grow so fast that their muscles die from lack of oxygen. The dead muscles are replaced with fatty, fibrous tissue that appears as white stripes.


a cracked egg


Birds used for eggs face a different kind of nightmare.


The U.S. egg industry kills infant male chicks as soon as they hatch—since they can't lay eggs.4


The industry then forces most hens to live in cages so small that the birds can't even spread their wings throughout their lives.

The law has too often turned a blind eye towards these animals' treatment.


scales of justice

That’s where Legal Impact for Chickens comes in. We are committed to holding corporations accountable for cruelty on factory farms. We work to ensure that chickens receive the welfare protections that the law intends.


Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to make this life-saving work possible. You can help us build a kinder world.

a beautiful drawing of a chicken's face

Written for Legal Impact for Chickens by Akbar Ali.


Sources:

1. United States Department of Agriculture, Poultry - Production and Value, 2020 Summary (Apr. 2021), https://www.nass.usda.gov/Publications/Todays_Reports/reports/plva0421.pdf.

2. Matthew Zampa, 99% of U.S. Farmed Animals Live on Factory Farms, Sentient Media (Apr. 16, 2019), https://sentientmedia.org/u-s-farmed-animals-live-on-factory-farms/.

3. Investigative Report: White Striping Disease In Supermarket Chicken, The Humane League (Oct. 3, 2021), https://assets.ctfassets.net/ww1ie0z745y7/1dOOUgl03qhrNKwSKbwXag/85f84495ce50c972d4c4cf6f48116f9f/white-striping-report-09.2021.pdf.

4. Tove K. Danovich, Why the US egg industry is still killing 300 million chicks a year, Vox (Apr. 12, 2021), https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/22374193/eggs-chickens-animal-welfare-culling.