Animal factory farming of chickens is a rapidly growing global problem. In the US alone an estimated 9 billion are consumed yearly(ASPCA). To put that into perspective our planet is estimated to have 7.7 billion people, so right now we are eating more chicken yearly than there are people on the planet. Because of our rising numbers more factories have to be made to compensate for the demand of the bird, But the rise of these factories has started to take a toll on our environment, our health, and the way we view the animal, and needs to be regulated more heavily.
The Last Chance for Animals (LCA) organization defines factory farming as an industrial process in which animals, and the products they generate are massed produced. People then harvest the animals for various products such as eggs, meat, leather, fur etc. The expansion of these factory farms are beginning to affect our atmosphere and cause damage to our planet. The modern factory puts much strain on natural resources such as water, land, fossil fuels. Big farms yield relatively a small amount of product in replacement of how much it affects us with pollution, greenhouse gases, air, water, deforestation, as well as the contribution to climate change. With the rapidly growing business that is animal agriculture more factories are having to be built yearly. These factories require lots of land and is a major cause of deforestation. The Food and Agriculture of The United Nations has estimated “70 percent of land formerly supporting amazon rainforest has been turned over to grazing”(FarmSanctuary). With the destruction of these forests for the factories it is starting to affect different animal species by taking away their habitats and forcing them to relocate to other places. If these animals are pushed to relocate some may have to try surviving in urban areas. If any of this wildlife gets too close to humans it could start to be come dangerous and may even become harmful depending on the species.
Like stated above, factories require lots of resources to continue operations; however, some resources, that are a little more mandatory for animal health and suitable product start to become higher in demand with the increase of factory farms. An example of one of these kinds of resources is water. Water you may not think is a valuable resource but having to supply billions of animals with clean drinking water starts to affect us humans and our way of life. Water is needed to help grow the crops that animals eat, provide something suitable to drink, waste disposal, and clearing the filth of the animal, living spaces, as well as off the transportation trucks. “In the United States alone, animal agriculture water consumption ranges from 36-74 trillion gallons of water annually” says author at the Modern Studio(TheModernStudio). If 36-74 trillion gallons of water is consumed yearly it begins to take a toll on that resource and is making it more valuable to us as humans who need it to survive. Fiona Harvey states that currently “844 million people which equates to one in nine of the planets population lacks access to clean, affordable water within half an hour of their homes. Almost every year three hundred thousand children under five die of diarrhea, linked to dirty water (TheGuardian).” If the amount of factory farmed meat consumed yearly starts to reduce it will begin to start saving us valuable water that could be used for other more important life and death matters.
Now that we know how it affects our environment just by running a regular farm, you begin to question the actual product that’s being made. A major animal subjected to the lifestyle of living on once of the farms is the chicken. There are two types of the bird that is used for the industry one is called the “broiler” and the other the “breeder”. These two types of chickens go through a lifestyle some may not imagine. Broiler chickens are raised solely for the purpose of their flesh. Broiler chickens were bred to be bigger and gain weight faster than other birds making them perfect for faster production of the animal, the Grow Network states that 85% of the birds skeleton is developed by 6 weeks. Broiler chickens in fact grow so fast that their legs can’t develop fast enough and can’t keep up its own weight, so many simply can’t walk or break their legs. The other type of factory chicken is the “breeder”. The breeder chickens job is self-explanatory make more chickens, and lay eggs. Breeder chickens have it rougher than the broiler because they must stay alive longer. Broiler chickens have 6-12 weeks of life until they can be harvested which doesn’t compare to the year of life that the breeder chickens must suffer through. Because the breeder chicken must stay alive for longer, they will continue to grow larger than normal because of their genetic engineering. The larger they get the more risk of any kind or organ failure increases. These chickens are usually raised in giant windowless sheds called broiler farms with tens of thousands of other chicken crammed pack. Because so many birds are forced to be with each other in such confined spacing they cannot establish any kind of social order thus causing frustration within the animals making them peck at each other sometimes to the death. To avoid them pecking each other farmers will cut off their beaks at a young age without any kind of anesthesia to prevent injury of other birds, but some still die from starvation because it’s too painful to eat. Another major downfall to keeping broiler chickens in these conditions is the spread of disease. Living spaces that aren’t taken care of often offer perfect living conditions for bacteria such as salmonella to manifest and take over. Consumer reports discovered that “two-thirds of chicken meat analyzed was infected with salmonella or campylobacter or both”. These diseases are caused because of how filthy the living situation is for these animals. To combat these bacterial infections most of these chickens are given antibiotics to build immunity to it, but some bacteria are evolving to become immune to the antibiotics and still wreak havoc through these farms. Because the bacteria is becoming resistant to antibiotics, it means that if a human were to get sick from one of these animals treatment of the illness would be hard because the bacteria already have an immunity to it.
Whats even worse for these birds besides their living situation is how they’re treated. PETA has done several investigations on the major chicken brand of Tyson and the founding have been horrendous. In 2007 investigators went to a broiler farm and witnessed over 9-day period workers urinating in the area the birds are stored, and on the conveyor belt system that moves them, but that not all the investigator witnessed. At Tyson workers admitted to breaking the birds backs by beating them on rails, several animals are hung by shackles by their head instead of feet, workers throwing animals into the wall, or even the machine that kills them was not just cutting of its head but missing the neck altogether and inflicting wounds on the birds body while it was still alive so then a back up killer had to become involved and would stab it in the throat with a knife. This list of horrors goes on and on but those are just a few examples of a major company where this abuse is happening, now imagine all the little owned companies where regulations are not really checked upon. PETA also states that “more chickens are raised and killed for food more than any other land animal combined yet not a single federal law protects them from abuse.” All federal laws regarding animal farming exempt poultry from the regulations altogether which should be the opposite since the bird is the most killed animal in the business.
A simple solution to eating chicken without having to support these factory birds is eating free range chickens. According to the US Department of Agriculture Regulations, a free range must have access to the outdoors. Unlike factory birds the free-range chicken are given a natural way of life before harvested. Most species of chicken can live up to 6 years but when farmed for their meat free range chickens can live for a longer period of 8-12 weeks instead of the usual 6 weeks that factory birds get. Free range birds can roam open plots of land and forage for their food instead of being forced to eat a grain feed with antibiotics. So, by purchasing free range birds you are paying for a better more fortunate way of life for your meals. Another reason why the free-range bird is a good alternative for us is for the nutritional benefits. FitnessFoods reveals that the free range have higher levels of nutrients and less fat. They also continue to go on saying “Free range chickens have 21% less total fat, 30% less saturated fat and 28% fewer calories than their factory counterparts. Eggs from free range also has 10% less fat, 40% more vitamin A, and 400% omega 3-s.” If people were to be more aware of what they are purchasing it could save countless lives from torture and reap benefits upon yourself.
With the problems induced from factory farms today some change is needed. Not only are factory farms tearing up our environment, they are also using up valuable resources, putting the lives of many through torturous conditions, and putting our health at risk. If government regulation continue to fail this poor animal, you can save many lives by asking the simple questions of what am I eating? And where did it come from? Next time you purchase some chicken meat do some research behind what company you are going through and how they take care of their product. Not only will you save the pain of many animals, but you will also keep yourself happy and healthy and start to contribute helping our environment in this day in age.