Commercial Chicken Farming
In this chapter you will learn about the modern chicken industry and about how your chicken nuggets got on your plate. Did you know that the average American eats about 80 pounds of chicken per year and yes that does mean whoever is reading this probably will eat 80 pounds of chicken this year. In the 1950’s it took 84 days to raise a five pound chicken but today it only takes 45 days due to all the growth hormones, selective breeding and fatty food. Did you know that every hour one million chickens are slaughtered. Also when you eat your chicken that is sitting on the table it will make you fatter because the Broilers body fat has increased by 15% from 1960 therefore making the eater of that chicken fatter. After the baby chicks are first placed in the barn where they eventually grow to market weight and because they grow so fast their body can’t keep up with such rapid growth most of the time resulting in heart failure or organ failure. This next fact might sound crazy but it isn’t. Did you know that 26% of broilers raised have suffered from chronic pain because of bone disease. New York used to be the largest consumer of chicken a few years back. The average broiler gets slaughtered at six weeks of age and 90% of those six week old chicks have trouble walking because of their unnatural body weight. In 2004 an unbelievably 8.9 billion chickens were slaughtered. Because of such rough handling to get to the slaughterhouse some birds will arrive with broken hips and blood in their mouth. To loosen the feathers the chickens will be put into scalding tanks of water called scalders. Most companies claim that hey stun the birds by putting them into a bathtub that is electrically charged but sometimes it doesn’t work and the chickens enter the scalders alive.
In the modern egg industry eggs are a big priority. The food that the farmers automatically feed to the hens gets very dusty along the way to the cages. In the end the food that the chickens eat has collected a lot of dust and all those dust particles gets stuck in their throats attracting bacteria that causes mouth ulcers. The farmers buy very low protein feed because it costs less except the hens make their eggs out of protein so the eggshells crack because of such a thin shell. Also the because of the low protein feed the hens bones also get very weak sometimes resulting in bone breaks and death. Since the farmers have their farms all run by machines they barely go into the barns so any sick or dying bird is left to rot away. Some of the birds become “egg bound” which means that their egg gets stuck in their vent most of the time resulting in death. After one year in this horrible confinement the hens are considered “spent” and are later ground up and put in low grade food products like chicken pot pie or other foods where you can’t see all the bruises or cuts from the long confinement. The average modern industry laying hen will lay 250 eggs per year or in her lifetime. While these chickens are kept in their cages they are deprived of the normal activities of a normal chicken. One of the most common problems with the modern egg industry is how the hens are deprived from dustbathing and when a chicken lies on the wire floor of the cage and tries to dustbathe the other hens peck at it causing it great amounts of pain. The use of dustbathing is to get rid of mites and lice but since they have no access to dusbaths they get lice and mites. In the modern egg farming industry the farmers only want the hens for their eggs so when they are sexing the chicks which means to see if they are a boy or a girl they suffocate or grind the male chicks and for every hen in the modern egg industry there is one male dead. And one common question that comes up is what do they do with the ground up male chicks? And the answer to that question is feed them to their sisters. The farmers never have to go into the barns to collect eggs because the floors of the cages are tilted so when a hen lays an egg it rolls off onto a conveyer belt and is collected at the long line of cages. In 2003 a commercial egg farm named Ward Egg Ranch was caught throwing their “spent” hens into a wood chopper or mulch maker except when the police got there they had already thrown 15,000 of their hens into the grinder. Since the broiler industry has people eating their chickens because they are raised for meat the egg industry had to find a different way to dispose of their hens and make a little cash off of them so they usually put them into pet food to hide all the bruises and cuts. Now you know how chickens in the modern poultry world are treated so now you might want to re-consider if you want to eat the chicken nuggets on your plate.