Broiler chickens are among the most farmed animals in the world, yet their suffering is largely hidden away from public view. Broiler chickens lead short, often painful lives within factory farms. Farmers use a method called selective breeding to produce chickens the shape and size that suit the desires of corporations and the consuming public—but these traits come at a cost to chickens. Taking a look into the lives of broiler chickens might make you think twice about serving these birds at your dinner table.
WHAT ARE BROILER CHICKENS?
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BROILERS AND LAYERS?
Broiler chicks have been carefully developed to have desirable characteristics such as larger breast muscles, which are eventually sold as “white flesh” or “chicken breasts.” Layers, also known as egg-laying chickens, are utilized in egg-producing facilities and have been selectively developed to produce large quantities of eggs.
HOW ARE BROILER CHICKENS RAISED?
Fast growing broiler chickens begin their lives in hatcheries, which incubate and hatch thousands of eggs. Because broiler chickens are kept in separate breeding facilities, they never see their parents. Chicks are vaccinated when they are about a day old and placed on conveyor belts. Vaccinations are provided via spraying or injection. The conveyor belts then deposit them into shipment crates the size of a huge desk drawer. The crates are stacked on top of each other and loaded into a truck for transit to the grow-out facility, where the birds will spend the most of their brief lives.
Grow-out barns are typically big, windowless structures where chickens are always housed indoors. These sheds can house hundreds of thousands of chickens. Incase your still not clear on how to raise your broilers, you can write this awesome article we have written to guide you on HOW TO COMFORTABLY RAISE DAY OLD CHICKS IN NIGERIA
CAN BROILER CHICKENS LAY EGGS?
Broiler hens are capable of laying eggs. Chickens that give birth to and fertilize eggs destined for broiler farms are vital to the poultry business. They are known as parent birds, stock breeders, or broiler breeders. Broiler breeders are frequently subjected to mutilations as chicks, such as beak clipping and comb dubbing, in which sections of the beak and comb (crest) are removed. Broiler breeders are housed in mixed-sex flocks in facilities comparable to grow-out barns for normal broiler chickens to allow for natural mating behavior and fertilization. Eggs are gathered and delivered to hatcheries, where broiler birds begin their lives.
HOW LONG DO BROILER CHICKENS LIVE?
Chickens can live for many years in general. Matilda, a Red Pyle chicken, set a Guinness World Record for the world’s oldest living chicken at 16 years old. Despite Matilda’s amazing longevity, backyard hens typically live between 5 and 12 years. Broiler chicks’ lives are significantly shortened.
However, in industrial agriculture conditions, broiler chickens’ lives are significantly reduced. Birds can be murdered between the ages of 21 and 170 days. In Nigeria, the average slaughter age is 47 days.
Despite the fact that these birds may appear fully grown due to their fast growth, when they are killed, they are still essentially chicks. This is just one of many health, welfare, and environmental issues caused by factory farming of broiler chickens. Some of the more obvious issues are mentioned below.
The conditions in any concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO), regardless of the species fed, are so strange that they raise a slew of welfare concerns. Broiler chickens are subjected to some of the cruelest abuses, living in cramped, indoor quarters for the rest of their lives, only to die via live-shackle slaughter, which is known to cause severe agony. Some of the variables that contribute to welfare difficulties in the broiler business are listed below.
Chickens live in small groups in the wild, typically with their own chicks. However, broiler chicken sheds are very different. Tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of birds can be housed at these facilities. Chickens are housed in such high numbers that each bird has roughly as much area to survive as a single sheet of lined paper. Their movements are restricted, preventing them from exercising correctly. Their capacity to rest is also hampered since they are frequently crushed by other birds while lying down.
Broiler chickens are moved twice during their lives: once as chicks, when they are carried from hatcheries to grow-out barns, and again at roughly 47 days of age, when they are taken from barns to slaughterhouse. Transport crates are roughly the size of large bureau drawers and do not provide adequate space for birds to travel comfortably or safely.
Transportation is recognized to be a major source of stress for birds during both life periods. A painful journey to the grow-out barn marred by thirst, hunger, and/or uncomfortable temperatures can result in stunted growth and an increased risk of sickness as the birds expand. The psychological stress of being in an unfamiliar environment exacerbates the crowded, confined conditions of transport containers.
The most prevalent method of killing broiler chickens is live-shackle slaughter, which is known for being the leading cause of animal misery in slaughterhouses. Birds are hanged upside down with their legs fastened into metal clamps, resulting in fractured bones. The birds are then dipped into an electric bath of water to shock them before having their throats sliced and their bodies tossed into a hot bath to remove their feathers. Many birds are conscious during the final phases of slaughter.
Many birds avoid the electrified bath or are not completely stunned by it, allowing them to remain conscious during the final stages of killing.
BIRD HEALTH ISSUES
Many health problems in broiler chickens are caused by the selective breeding process, in which specific varieties of chickens are chosen and raised to develop excessively fast. While quick growth may be beneficial to a company’s production schedule and earnings, it produces a slew of unpleasant and debilitating diseases in broiler chickens.
The Better Chicken Commitment urges businesses to commit to buying chickens from suppliers who do not employ fast-growing breeds. So far, over 185 companies have signed the pledge.
Broiler hens are especially prone to cardiovascular disease, including heart failure. The most frequent cardiac diseases in traditional broiler flocks are Sudden Death Syndrome and Ascites Syndrome. Heart trouble is common as a result of rapid growth and selective breeding, as well as overeating, which is encouraged because larger birds bring in more money for firms. Heart arrhythmias can also be induced by a variety of circumstances, including stress or other disorders.
Many unpleasant conditions can be caused by the skeletons of typical broiler chickens. The bird’s body puts on more flesh weight than the skeleton can support in quick development breeds, causing in health issues such as angular bone abnormalities. These malformations appear in chicks as young as 6 days old and prevent them from obtaining food or water, resulting in starving death.
The selective breeding of broiler chickens to increase the size of their breasts also places an unnecessary pressure on their skeletal structures. The increased weight of the breast muscles, as well as the overall larger body weight, might exert strain on the legs, causing tibial dyschondroplasia and lameness.
Lesions commonly appear on the breasts, feet, and hocks (ankle joint). These painful lumps and sores, known as integument lesions, are caused by hens coming into prolonged contact with their own ammonia-rich feces.
Integument lesions can also develop as a result of a lack of physical exercise caused by overcrowding. The incapacity of chickens to walk about frequently leads to various physical defects, such as skeletal lameness, which further limits the birds’ activity.
When it comes to environmental contamination from poultry plants, chicken waste is the main problem. The waste produces hazardous greenhouse gas emissions, the most prominent of which are ammonia, methane, and sulfur dioxide. Factory farms also contribute to water pollution, such as eutrophication (when a high nutrient load reduces oxygen levels in a body of water, resulting in the mass death of marine life) and acidification.
Ammonia is a poisonous gas that is produced by garbage and can cause significant illnesses in both birds and farmworkers. Broiler chicks on factory farms develop ammonia lesions when they come into frequent touch with their own waste, which is common given the crowded environment. High levels of ammonia inhaled can cause inflammation in birds and farmworkers, and it has been proven to disrupt metabolism, promote cell apoptosis, and cause mitochondrial damage in the digestive tract.
PRODUCTION AND CONSUMPTION STATISTICS
Below are some striking broiler chicken production statistics provided by the US Poultry and Egg Association for the year 2019:
- 9.18 billion broiler chickens were killed.
- The total value of broiler chicken production was $28.3 billion.
- Tyson Foods produced the most broiler chickens, at 192.33 million pounds, followed by Pilgrim’s Pride at 156.02 million pounds.
The National Chicken Council provided the following statistics in a 2019 industry report:
- Americans consume more chicken than any other country, eating 93.5 pounds of chicken per capita in 2018.
- The top five states for broiler production are Georgia, Arkansas, Alabama, North Carolina, and Mississippi.
- US consumers spent $95 billion on broiler chicken products in 2018.
Many of the problems that broiler chickens face are hidden from public view since improving animal welfare always comes at a cost to factory farming firms. However, reform is required to lessen the harm done to these birds by conventional farming techniques. Businesses should recognize this by signing the Better Chicken Commitment, since broiler chickens, like all animals, deserve better.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How do you manage day old broilers?
Keep brooder temperatures at 95 degrees Fahrenheit for the first week, then reduce by 5 degrees each week until they are fully feathered. Make sure there is enough space for chicks to escape the heat. Make probiotics available in their drinking water to help them develop healthy digestive tracts.
What should you feed one-day-old chickens?
Starter feed, sometimes known as starter crumbles, is required for day-old chicks up to 18 weeks of age. Starter feed contains the greatest protein proportion a layer will ever ingest, which makes sense considering their rapid growth in the first several months of life.
How many bags of feed do I need for 100 broiler?
100 fast-growing broiler chickens would use 17 bags of 25 kilogram broiler feed in 6 weeks and 22 bags of 25 kg broiler feed in 7 weeks on average. Worldwide, the average overall rearing period for a commercial broiler chicken is between 6-7 weeks.
How Much are Day old layers in Nigeria 2022?
Do broiler chickens need light at night?
According to new research, broiler chickens require at least four hours of darkness per day for optimal performance, health, and wellbeing. Commercial broiler chickens may not get enough darkness. a minimum of four hours of darkness a day should be provided for the best performance