Who uses broiler chickens?
A broiler chicken is a chicken bought, sold and consumed by customers who enjoy dining on chicken sold in establishments like Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), Red Rooster and the cooked or packaged chickens purchased in supermarkets.
How broiler chickens are produced, what’s the process?
Broiler chicken farming, according to the Australian Chicken and Meat Federation’s website states, “Most commercial meat chicken farms are intensive, highly mechanised operations that occupy relatively small areas compared with other forms of farming.” They then go on to tell you what a pleasant life the chickens lead prior to their slaughter at five to seven weeks of age when they reach a weight of approximately 2kg. Many broiler chicken industry websites offer an inaccurate portrayal of the life of a broiler chicken.
The reality is the broiler chicken is born into a world of cruelty.
The broiler chicken industry started in Australia in the late 1950s. In this time broiler chickens have been, and continue to be, rigorously and selectively bred to gain weight as fast as possible to ensure maximum profit. A broiler chicken gains weight up to three times faster than a normal chicken. Broiler chickens’ internal organs remain the same size as a normal chicken causing the unnatural weight of the broiler chicken to place excessive strain on the heart and other organs. This is what ultimately caused the deaths of Marshal and then Cindy.
In only 50 years, the amount of time it takes for a broiler chicken to reach a weight of 1.6kg has been reduced by 61 days, from 98 to 37 days, a reduction of over 50%.
The weight of a broiler chicken, in conjunction with normal sized organs and cramped living conditions, among other reasons, leads to painful side effects such as:
- Breast blister - painful ulceration of the skin
- Lameness caused by dislocation of joints
- Bone fractures
- Hockburn - lesions on the foot and hock caused by wet litter and high ammonia levels.
Around 2% of birds die in the sheds from illness, trauma and starvation.
Just before they end up on your plate
On arrival at the abattoir, the chickens are fettered by their feet and hung upside down on an overhead conveyor. This is not only a terrifying experience for them but many are already suffering from fractures and dislocations adding to their fear and pain.
The next step in this cruel process is conveying the frightened, conscious birds to the killing room.
The final moments
In their final moments a broiler chicken’s head is passed through an electrified water bath intended to stun them. This is not a failsafe process because some of the birds will move their heads and not get stunned. These birds, still fully conscious, are transported, hung by the feet on the conveyor, to an automated processing knife which cuts their throat.
Finally the chickens are plunged into a broiling tank to loosen their feathers before plucking.
It is horrific to think, in the same way some of the broiler chickens avoid being stunned, a number of others are not killed outright by the knife; they suffer a death of being boiled alive.
Article by Laurence Lewis, animal activist and vegan.