The Utterly Deplorable Lives of Factory-Farmed Chickens   
 
The Utterly Deplorable Lives of Factory-Farmed Chickens  
The images in the following program are highly sensitive and may be as disturbing to viewers as they were to us. However, we have to show the truth about cruelty to animals, praying that you will help to stop it.

Today on the Stop Animal Cruelty series we’ll examine the horrendous lives of chickens raised for eggs and meat. Our feathered friends are caring and have a noble heritage as Karen Davis, founder of United Poultry Concerns explains.

Chickens, as far as scientists know, based on DNA evidence and other evidence, evolved in the tropical forests of South East Asia and parts of India up to the Himalayas – the hilly areas and that’s their providence, that’s where they originated, and they lived and continue to live, their wild relatives, very hardy lives; raising their families, sleeping in the branches of trees at night, very active, running around, dust bathing, sun bathing and living a very vigorous and zesty life.

And I know chickens have feelings. I know they’re very emotional birds. I know that they are very intelligent birds. And I’d say this: “If humans have a soul, so does the rest of the animal kingdom including chickens.”

So how are these sensitive, sentient beings treated in the process of producing eggs and meat? The advertising for these products often includes scenes of green pastures and birds walking freely and happily through tall grass; however these images are outright lies.

Let’s first look at the lives of egg-laying hens on factory farms. After hatching, chicks are first sorted, with the females being kept to lay eggs. The males are murdered by a number of torturous, callous methods as they cannot lay eggs and are not the same breed as those raised for meat. Some farms gas the young birds by placing them in carbon dioxide chambers or throw them into a shredding machine or macerator that rips the fully conscious chicks into bloody shreds.

The female chicks are then raised to the age of approximately 18 weeks when they become hens and are able to produce eggs. Then up to 11 hens are jammed into a single battery cage, with some measuring only 45 by 50 centimeters. This tiny enclosure will be their home for the rest of their short, trauma-filled lives. The cages are stacked on top of one another in huge sheds where up to 125,000 birds may be imprisoned.

Thousands and thousands of hens are kept in small cages; each cage is about this size and there are three hens that live in that cage for their whole short existence. They can’t move, they can’t lift their wings, they can’t turn around; they just stand there and peck at this end and lay eggs at that end.

And they are standing on chicken wire, so it’s very painful for their feet. And the cages are all stacked on top of each other so the pee and the poo, the uric acid comes down and burns their skin. So these girls are eighteen months old. They’ve laid for one season, and then all hens stop laying for about six weeks and at that time the farmer kills them all. Because he doesn’t want to feed them for six weeks while they are not giving him eggs.

You can see these hens are covered in feces, basically, they’ve all been stacked on top of each other, and If you look at the back here you can see that the feathers are actually burned away from the uric acid. There’re the quills with no real feathers left on them. See there, and the same with the tail, and they are down to practically skin on her back.

That’s not the sign of a healthy chicken; these are the poor chickens who lay the eggs that you buy so cheap in the stores!

The build-up of urine and feces from thousands upon thousands of hens leads to extremely putrid, utterly filthy conditions that produce the breeding grounds for numerous deadly diseases which may easily be passed on to humans, such as avian flu viruses.

When you crowd thousands and thousands of birds or really any type of creature together breathing the same air, living in excrement, filled with stress, which harms their immune systems, it makes them more susceptible to disease, sneezing and coughing on each other. Then you’re going to have contagious diseases and you’re going to have an environment that is a paradise for disease-causing organisms, and that is the reality of modern chicken production.

They are in an environment that breeds pathogens; that is, disease-causing micro-organisms that are in their intestines, in their respiratory systems. And so you take avian influenza viruses, well, they’ve lived without causing any harm in the bodies of ducks for millennia. And it’s with concentrated chicken production and, for example, feeding ducks chicken manure and putting the chicken manure out into the environment, and it’s all of this kind of concentrated production, feathers contaminated, feathers from the industry and so that creates strains of the virus.

To keep the hens from pecking one another in the cramped, tremendously stressful environment of the battery cages, their sensitive, nerve-filled beaks are sliced off with a red hot blade in a vile process called “de-beaking.” This procedure causes agonizing pain and makes it very difficult for the birds to eat, so many die of starvation. In addition, lighting, food and other environmental factors are controlled to force the hens to produce ten times the number of eggs they would normally lay.

Some hens may lay up to 290 eggs a year, putting an unbearable physical strain on these delicate beings and causing them even more pain and disease, as well as injuring their reproductive organs. At the end of this terrifying ordeal the helpless animals are sent to slaughter. The treatment of so-called “broilers” or chickens raised for meat also defies belief and lacks any shred of morality or humanity. The whole process of raising broiler chickens revolves around getting them as heavy as possible, as quickly as possible. To this end the animals are genetically altered and injected with drugs and hormones.

The light source in the cages is also varied to cause rapid growth, resulting in chickens that develop to a greater size in six weeks than they would in six months under natural conditions. This rapid, excessive weight gain causes painful and often lethal health problems normally associated with old age. Moreover, many become lame as their legs cannot support their weight, while others suffer from heart attacks and respiratory conditions. Buster is a factory farmed chicken who was rescued from slaughter by the group Animal Liberation Victoria in Australia.

He was laying on his back, his legs flailing in the air, and he was panting and so distressed. And when I saw him I just couldn't leave him there, so we managed to pry open the side of the crates and get him out.

He’s one handsome fellow. Now he's probably about six to eight weeks, is that right?

That's right. Yes.

They're quite big for six to eight weeks (of age).

They're massive. Their skeletons can't cope with their weight, and so by the time that they're ready to be killed, most of them aren't even able to stand or walk.

At just six weeks of age the poor, adolescent chickens are grabbed by whatever appendage is available and stuffed into crates, sometimes 15-20 a crate. Absolutely no concern is given for their health or welfare, so many suffer from broken wings, legs and necks. With no food, water or protection from the elements during transport to the slaughterhouse, many of the already sick, weakened animals succumb to the horrific conditions and ultimately die, as many as 50% per crate.

In November 2011 Animal Liberation Victoria conducted an operation in Melbourne, Australia where they rescued a number of chickens from trucks bound for an abattoir.

Obviously the birds are bred to grow really quickly, so there’s a lot of crippling in the birds anyway, which is made much worse when they're just grabbed by the legs and thrown into crates. There were a lot of sick birds on there. There were a lot of dead birds on the trucks. And it’s just very, very traumatic for them. A lot of them are having trouble breathing, and obviously very stressed.

They are in really poor condition, the birds on these trucks. Many of them are crippled, and many dead birds. So they've been on these trucks for a long period of time, and then when they're brought to the processing plant, which is basically where they're killed, they're often left outdoors for many hours. So it’s a very sad state of affairs for these birds.

The slaughterhouse is a nightmarish place where the screams of the dying are constantly heard. The environment is beyond sickening.

You also were able to make it into one of the slaughterhouses, could you describe the conditions in there?

It was really revolting; there were just piles of entrails, and sludge all over the floor. There were feathers left in the feather room which had lots of heads and feet. Yes, it was revolting. The group of us that were in there all nearly vomited from the smell.

The murderous machines in the plant not only kill countless chickens but may even end the lives of their operators. In one case at an abattoir in Melbourne, Australia, a worker was decapitated while cleaning a macerator.

In August last year (2010), one of the workers was decapitated because he was cleaning the machine and the company doesn't allow them to stop the machine while its being cleaned, presumably to save money. This place is killing over 100,000 birds a day and makes all of its money on killing.

There’s a simple, effective way to stop this atrocious cruelty; that is for us all to consume only plant-based foods. Such a change in diet will not only end the ongoing massive bloodshed, but also benefit public health. So please help to spare the billions of animals incarcerated, tortured and murdered by opting for a plant-based diet today. Our deep thanks Karen Davis, Shawn Bishop, and the staff and volunteers of Animal Liberation Victoria as well all others around the world who work tirelessly to preserve the lives of our animal friends.

For more information on cruelty to chickens and other factory farmed animals, please visit the following websites: Animal Liberation Victoria www.ALV.org.au
The Sanctuary www.AnimalSanctuary.co.nz
United Poultry Concerns www.UPC-Online.org

Thank you for watching this week’s edition of Stop Animal Cruelty. We sincerely pray for the day when all beings will live in peace and harmony through God’s loving grace.
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