Fattened Faster, Slaughtered Sooner: The Cruel Race for Cheap Meat

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 11:15am
chickens stuffed into cages

September is National Chicken Month, so it’s especially fitting that this month the ASPCA launched a national campaign to improve the lives of the nearly 9 billion chickens raised and slaughtered every year for meat. The Truth About Chicken is a big initiative for a big problem.

As the graph below shows, since 1920 the average weight of a meat chicken has risen while the time it takes to reach “slaughter weight” has shrunk. This is no accident. In the name of producing as much cheap white breast meat as possible, modern chickens have been bred for unnaturally fast and disproportionate weight gain.

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The average age and the average live weight of chickens at slaughter since 1920.

On factory farms, where 99% of them live, chickens are packed into windowless sheds by the tens of thousands where in just over six weeks, they explode from tiny chicks into top-heavy, sumo-sized six-pound birds. That's almost a pound of weight gain a week!

The weight strains the birds’ bones and organs, which haven't had enough time to develop, causing all kinds of breakdown: broken bones, torn tendons, difficulty breathing, heart attacks and birds who collapse under their own weight. Overburdened but still youngsters, these chickens lie in their own waste for much of their lives, causing burns and open sores on their chests and feet. These wounds allow in Salmonella, campylobacter and other pathogens that can make consumers sick. 

As farmer Will Harris states, “We have successfully bred most of the chicken out of the chicken. A chicken in 1940, raised for 14 weeks to maturity, could fly. A chicken in 2010, raised for 6 weeks to maturity, struggles to walk.”

We’re fighting for better lives for chickens and we need your help. Tell the industry that you won’t stand for this kind of cruelty in the name of profit. Take action at today!

Sources: Data sources include USDA Poultry Slaughter ReportsNational Chicken Council, Commercial Chicken Meat and Egg Production (2002) and Handbook of Poultry and Egg Statistics (1937). Graphic created by from blog post on Sept. 10, 2013.

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sandy rodriguez

Guess you were absent the day they studied the Passover "lamb".Also animal sacrifice was a temple ritual GOD instituted for the remission of sins for mankind...the ONLY way until Jesus took it's place ( the sacrificial lamb) and the priests were instructed to have a portion of this offering, grain, bullocks, lambs meat as payment. How you ever got Jesus as a Vegan is way beyond me. You are obviously a disturbed individual and animal issues set you off, I would advise you seek help for yourself. You might try "reading" the Bible also, God did indeed create man in "their" own image...... to be precise it says "Let us create man in "OUR" own image" ....I wouldn't argue with GOD....just sayin....

kristi dunn

great comment. well said


HERE HERE, Laurie! I couldn't have said it better myself. I do occasionally eat meat. So I do not have much ground to stand on. I can say I try to buy from local farms. But I find it insulting that someone would say that God made animals for us to eat. If that truly were the case, he would have given us pointy teeth, retractable claws, and a lot more muscle! God has nothing to do with the decision to eat meat. Each individual does. How they've turned these poor creatures into a million dollar industry makes me physically ill.


What god you numbskull? If you are a Christian perhaps you should follow one of the ten commandments "Thou shall not kill". Where does it add the words "it's OK to kill the creatures of the planet"? You are a hypocriet and a gluttonous one at that.


So you're against animal cruelty? Take a good look at a truck carrying animals to a slaughter house. Do you see kindness? Then visit a slaughter house. Hypocrite.


So you're against animal cruelty? Take a good look at a truck carrying animals to a slaughter house. Do you see kindness? Then visit a slaughter house. Hypocrite.


The problem begins where you quote "they were created by God for food and companionship". So, did "God" decide that we should love a dog and slaughter a chicken? In Korea, they torture and slaughter dogs and cats every day. In India they worship the cow. Can you tell me where God said which animals should be slaughtered and which should be so-called "companions"? Leave the 3,500 year-old book out of this and use common sense. Animals have feelings. They feel scared and sad and hopeless in the conditions they are forced to live until their brutal slaughter. Can you please tell me where Christianity plays a role in this? There is ZERO love and compassion for animals on factory farms--only sadness, filth and suffering and "God" would consider that a SIN.


well i don't belive in all that junk i mean do you really
think god is a real man he's just a legend.
and animals were NOT created to be milk meat and egg machines
becase animals are NOT our's to eat,
animals are NOT our's to wear
and animals are NOT our's for entertainment!!!!!!
It is also said that veagens and vegetarian live longer
i'm not a vegen cos i eat eggs (i'm an ovo vegetarian) and i only eat
eggs that are free range or organic.
save the animals!!!!!!


Actually, God is real. He provides us food. Like animals, although insane horrif killing of animals is wrong.

Chris Brobeck

I've eaten chicken my entire life. A few weeks ago we were on the Eastern shore and stopped at a traffic light just before the Perdue/Tyson plants. A truck pulled up next to us with a load of chickens in crates. To see with my own eyes, the way the chickens were stuffed into crates, some of them looked injured, some of them dead -I sat and cried. I kept telling my husband to get away from the truck as fast as possible. I can no longer ignore the issue, I have completely stopped eating chicken (I stopped veal many years ago). I think it will not be long before Isop eating any type of meat.