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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The ASPCA just wants to stop the mean killing of animals with out pain killers. The animals FEEL it. Would you like to be that animal? Anybody?

Patricia Ray

There is a local grocery store here that sells chicken that has Absolutely No Flavor Whatsoever! You only know it's chicken by the look and texture, not the flavor. Mistreated Chickens Have No Flavor, but that is NOT my complaint! Here again, Man Is The Cruelest of ALL Animals!! We think we're so Big and Smart, but in all actuality, we are Just Plain Stupid compared to animals. It probably won't happen in my lifetime, but I hope and pray that someday, once MAN has Eliminated All Animal Species (which could happen, right??), we will wake up and start to value our animals and treat them well. Perhaps One Day, Factory Farms will be replaced by Community Sustainable Agriculture, where animals are free to graze and enjoy their lives prior to being slaughtered HUMANELY, I must Add!!! Has Anyone Tasted Chicken that Comes From These Type Farms?? It Is Delicious!!!!


Man is cruel, yes...but have you taken a look at some animal species...they have found monkey's that molest and rape young baby chimps, killer whales that drag a baby seal out to the middle of the ocean and slap it back and forth dragging it under the water until near death then drag if back up and keep playing...they tortured this poor seal for over 30 mins 'playing' with it, then when it finally died...they didn't even eat it. So there is cruelty all's nature, species killing the old, young and disabled, replacing young in nest and when they hatch they eat the 'mother' ...I could go on and on....The main point here is the humaine treatment of animals when being handled by humans, and there are currently many many farms out there that do keep and slaughter their animals properly. I personally try to buy halal meat when possible as it is raised better, blessed, cleaned and relaxed in a nice atmosphere and killed fast and almost painlessly. unlike factories that have a conveyor belt and a hook that hang the live animal as it goes around until it finally bleeds out....but I do animals that are 'free' DO taste so much better and if you try out halal is the same, even my kids noticed a big difference and won't eat the regular stuff (I try not to buy it anyways...but when money is tight....there is not much I can do at that moment)


halal flesh? It is raised no differently to non-halal flesh. Haven't you seen the lashings of cruelty by halal butchers? So the creature being murdered is relaxed and feels almost no pain? Halal flesh is the product of slaughter houses, where the unfortunate creature is not even stunned before being thrown to the floor and unceremoniously butchered then hung on a conveyor belt. That is world-wide. Are you not ashamed to admit feeding your children such carnage? Think they get nourished by the flesh of an animal that has suffered fear and cruelty for the sake of a religious rite? Get your eyes tested and read up on the subject before making such ludicrous comments.


The pure cruelty with breeding and slautering is THE reason I became a Vegertain!


Keep it up farmers and all the rest1 I just about have given up on eating protein. I can bring myself to buy any meat, forget about shrimp and Lobster after I got a download from PETA how they TEAR them apart as still living & moving parts are going still. They have feelings and hurt like we do. As far as Chicken goes, any roasted stuff or even buying raw chicken meat in groceries I cant do! I sometimes at times when I have eaten white meat of chicken, the texture or taste is off. Turkey is another story, Until I see something bad about that then I guess I will give that up to! Forget Tuna too! My cats wont even eat the supposed good stuff, solid white in water, they can smell something in that juice & tuna. It goes thru me too & sometimes get bad gas from it!! Mercury is what is poisoning the waters & the tuna!

Lynn J

I'm a vegetarian and would never dream of calling anyone who eats meat gluttonous, cruel, etc. My sons and all the rest of my family and most of my friends eat meat. I do think that animals, all animals, not just those being raised for consumption, need to be treated humanely. Those being raised for food should be killed humanely as well. I don't think baby animals should be used for food no matter how tasty the meat might be. Let them have a good life, where they can live as nature intended and be with their own kind and their young. I personally don't think any animal should be killed so I can eat it, but that's only how I feel. I don't push that view on anyone else. Please don't generalize all vegetarians either.


Lets face it. So called "Humans" are the most vicious, destrustful and hatefull creature that lives on earth. There isn't anything that they don't kill or destroy.. They destroy the water, air, and all other living things from the smallest to the largest. They kill and destroy trees, plants, bugs, animals ( that live in the oceans, lakes, streams and land) and what is sick, they even kill their own. They kill for fun and pleasure, they kill for food, they kill each other, for hate and to be in control (power).


It's not just fast food billionaires that are greedy. It's the factory farms, too. And it's not just chickens. I now buy farm shares locally from a place that has a farm cam on its website. They totally don't mind you watching their animals OUTSIDE in the field. They love to give tours. I buy my milk raw from a local farm where the cows are there right next to the store. Happy, happy, happy cows. It's more expensive and I eat way less meat. But it goes for vegetables also. They work on hybrids that resist disease and insects and the result is tasteless vegetables. Anyone notice that grocery store carrots taste like cardboard with no sweetness? I buy organic when possible. Greed, profit. That is the only important thing to these big factory farm people.

Joyce M

God Bless you Mary, Factory farms are part of the Greediness this country has become. The government has pushed family farms out of business. We no longer live in a free society, what a disgrace!