“Broiler chicken” is the name given to chickens who are raised for meat production.
They are reared in crammed broiler sheds, with upwards of 45,000 chickens per shed. These chickens will spend their entire lives in crowded unnatural surroundings. They will never see daylight, nor be able to display any of their natural behaviours, such as foraging or scratching.
In a natural setting chickens would live for over 12 years but due to selective breeding in a broiler shed they will reach full weight and be slaughtered in just six weeks. This rapid growth causes a range of health problems.
Usually conditions are filthy – due to overcrowding and defecation in the living space – so hens are frequently given antibiotics to prevent disease. This – along with breeding birds to be oversized – can have a growth-promoting effect meaning that chicks grow so fast that their legs cannot support their oversized bodies and they become crippled. These oversized bodies mean they can die prematurely from heart failure, as small hearts cannot cope with the load of obesity.
Most of the chicken meat purchased in New Zealand (such as Tegel and Inghams) is farmed in this intensified manner. This is done to meet high demand for chicken meat as well as to make the highest possible profits. These animals are bred, raised and killed for human profit and greed.
A very small percentage of chickens raised for their flesh in New Zealand are ‘free range.’
Chickens may be given time outside and not be fed antibiotics.
Though many people may feel that it is OK to eat an animal if the quality of their life is better than that of a broiler chicken, there is still much suffering involved in free range meat production.
Irrespective of the life that they lived, the slaughter process is a traumatic and horrific one, and all male chicks are killed at birth as an unwanted biproduct of industry.
The chickens are handled roughly, being hooked up by their legs to a conveyor belt. They then are dragged through an electric current used to stun them. Some of the chickens may raise their heads in order to avoid this meaning they are conscious for the next part of the process. Their throats are then slit and they bleed to death. In large slaughterhouses this is done by an automated system, meaning again, that some chickens may be missed and still be completely conscious. After having their throats slit they are taken through a hot water bath, many of the birds being partially aware, some being completely conscious.
The suffering that is chicken farming and slaughter only exists because humans continue to view animals as products merely alive for us to consume. Animals have the ability to feel pain and suffering. We recognize when we have pets that they have personalities and feel emotions, yet we ignore this fact when it comes to the animals that we choose to eat.
If you wish to reduce the suffering of millions of chickens slaughtered every year in New Zealand for their meat then you can make a change. You can remove chicken from your diet – it’s better for the environment, better for animals and better for you.