Photo: Pia Sarker
Chicken Raised for Meat
In 2020, approximately 735 million chickens were raised for meat in Canada. The average “broiler” chicken is raised inside a large industrial barn in groups of up to 50,000 birds. Chickens are housed in extremely crowded, barren buildings with automatic feeders and water stations. These birds have been genetically selected for very rapid growth.
Rapid growth causes the birds crippling and painful skeletal disorders because their fragile bones cannot support the weight of their large mass. It also stresses their hearts and lungs causing debilitating respiratory and acute cardiac issues.
In 1950, in Canada, it took 84 days for a broiler chicken to reach the market weight of 1.36 kg, but by 2021, it took as little as 31-33 days to produce a 2 kg bird.
When they have reached their slaughter weight, each bird has only a ahalf-square foot (465 sq cm) of space. These barren and confining conditions deny them the opportunity to express natural behaviors. Social chaos develops as thousands of chickens mill about, with too many birds for a well-defined pecking order to develop. Normal behaviour patterns are impossible. Individuals become severely stressed from unnatural conditions and physical pain.
There is near-continuous lighting in the barns, with only four hours off, to stimulate higher food consumption.
Massive amounts of manure accumulate in the floor litter creating high moisture and ammonia content, which results in the birds suffering litter burn. The air quality also deteriorates, becoming polluted with ammonia, dust, and microorganisms, causing respiratory infections and sores.
To learn how to help, visit our sister website HelpTheChickens.ca.