The Dark-Side of the Chicken Industry

Photo: Creative Commons

Photo: Creative Commons

Jacqueline Kim, Staff Writer

The egg and poultry industry are industries in high demand, which is reasonable, due to their great presence in our daily lives. We have eggs for breakfast, fried chicken from fast food restaurants, and everything in between. But how are our products brought to our tables, packaged by the dozen in convenient compartments, and delivered through drive-through windows? As these products are in such high demand, how might our producers meet our demands? Most would likely not come to the conclusion that our chicken and egg produce are delivered through a morally corrupt system that exploits hen and chicken through remuneration-oriented organizations.

There are primarily two positions within the poultry and egg industry: broiler chicken and layer hen. 

The ultimate goal of broiler chicken-industries is the production of desirable, plump meat, whether or not the means in which these goals are achieved are morally “right” or not. In order for these industries to produce the most desirable meat, these chicken are often given multiple growth-hormone injections as well as therapies in order to initiate prematuring, for greater and faster profit rates. Generally, these chickens are slaughtered upon 42 days of age, while a healthy chicken may normally live up to a potential 15 years of age. Accelerating the growth and development of young chicks would promise “profitable” poultry, while reducing expenses on resources such as space and food. While these adaptations may serve as beneficial to these industries, these treatments are incredibly harmful towards the broiler chickens themselves. These modifications may cause severe body deformities, bone and joint aches and pains, heart failures, as well as numerous other health issues. This excessive weight gain stresses vital organs including the heart, as well as bone structures. Multiple broiler chicken will die prematurely due to these conditions and altercations.

As for layer hens, their sole purpose is to produce eggs. In order to gain as much profit from these hens, companies and industries may use certain techniques and manipulations in order to increase egg production. Manipulations in lighting may “confuse” hens into producing and laying eggs excessively. This lighting manipulation simulates the perception that it is “laying season,” causing hens to lay more eggs. This excessive egg production may ultimately induce health problems due to exhaustion and stress. Along with this lighting manipulation, other various emulations are initiated in order to increase profits. Chickens generally “molt” during the winter, in order to grow new feathers to preserve heat throughout the upcoming season. In efforts to preserve energy to be concentrated towards laying eggs, layer hens are influenced into molting earlier, through “forced molting.” Along with these augmentations and manipulations, layer hens, similarly to broiler chicken, are injected with hormonal injections with the intentions of increasing egg production. Despite these efforts, many of these injections have shown to have lead to various harmful reproductive diseases. Along with such expectant standards and conditions, layer hens generally die within a few years due to exhaustion.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), claims chickens to be “the most abused animals on the planet,” although this proclamation was not made without reason. Our chicken are often provided the absolute minimum regarding living conditions, that fail to serve these chicken with even their basic needs. Chickens are stored in small, wire-cages that are often stacked in order to preserve space and storage. These conditions are incredibly harming towards these chickens for various reasons. These wire-cages themselves may chafe and irritate the skin and feathers of chicken, while the uneven floor wiring may deform their feet, legs, and overall body structure and composure. By the organization of these chicken cages that are often stacked on top of one another, feces (which are left unattended and uncared-for) often fall through the wiring and gather at the bases and surfaces of cages, causing the build up and development of bacteria and disease. Not only are the chicken harmed due to this filth and bacteria development, but they may also taint and contaminate meat that is later distributed and sold. During the process of transportation, means of convenience and cost-efficiencies are of the greatest priorities, and therefore, chicken face great discomforts and abuse during the processes of exports and imports. Comfort and protection on behalf of the livestock are of the lowest concerns, and it is due to these conditions, that it is often that several chickens die during shipment procedures. Within this profit-based industry, many chicken endure inhuman treatment and ultimately, detrimental harm.

Finally, injustices may be made evident through the observation of slaughter procedures. Of course, these industries can not quite be faulted for the expected deaths of millions of chickens (through this meat industry), due to the demand of poultry within the dietary needs of their societies, but it has been observed through their immoral means in killing chicken that has led to unnecessary deaths and abuse. An average of over 100 million chickens are slaughtered yearly, claimed as “unfit for profit.” Millions of unnecessary deaths occur by the basis of a failure to meet the high expectations of this brutal industry. Through a private investigation by PETA eyewitnesses, it was testified that thousands of chickens had been observed to have been ruthlessly murdered within a sole weekend. These birds had been claimed to have been beaten and gassed to death. Even, and especially during slaughter, cost-efficiency, again, is of top priority. Therefore, these animals face barbarous ends through practices that involve methods such as suspending from a ledge, in means of proficiency in slitting their throats; submerging chicken in electrified water; burning them in boiling water. Additional cruelties involved in slaughter include the murder of millions of male chicks that are born, unsuitable to bear eggs. These chicks are killed upon birth through mechanisms such as gassing, boiling, and even grinding for their inability to partake in egg production. Millions of chicken annually face these dark ends, and suffer from cruel and unnecessary deaths, simply by the great demands and profit-oriented structures of the egg/poultry industries.

These injustices and cruelties directed towards chicken within the egg and poultry industries are evident. Hundreds of millions of chicken (layer and broiler alike) suffer due to these cruelties annually, simply due to their high demand and these companies’ efforts in order to reap the greatest profits. However, measures may be taken in order to prevent such outcomes towards chicken that may preserve and benefit valuable life. Raising awareness towards this conflict may help to bring an end to this maltreatment, as well as supporting non-abusive companies and organizations/farms. We may avoid the deaths and sufferings of millions of chicken a year if we all partake in such movements and efforts to conduct this production and distribution in an ethically and morally sustainable manner.