The National Chicken Council calculates that about 1.25 billion chicken wings will be consumed this Sunday, February 1, when much of America will be watching the biggest football game of the year.
When you see a platter piled high with wings, remember that every pair of wings represents an individual chicken. Here’s what his life was probably like in today’s age of factory farming:
Could barely fly The chicken industry has bred chickens to be up to three times bigger than they used to be, but that weight means they often can’t walk without pain, never mind get off the ground easily. Slower-growing, healthier chickens can perch and even fly up into low branches of trees.
Couldn’t balance Some chickens are so incapacitated by their ungainly bodies that they have to use their wings for balance (like crutches) to shuffle to a source of food or water. The practice is sometimes called “wing walking.”
Could barely move Imagine a football field full of chickens, from one end zone to the other. This is what a typical industrial chicken shed on a factory farm is like: Tens of thousands of birds are packed into giant, windowless structures, living in their own waste. This causes open sores on their chests and feet that can act as gateways to infection. With often less than one square foot of floor space each, birds have no ability to perch, forage or even move easily.
It doesn’t have to be this way! The ASPCA’s Truth About Chicken campaign is encouraging companies to use more humane practices to finally address the suffering stemming from unnatural growth rates and poor conditions.
The Wall Street Journal recently asked, “Will 2015 Be the Year of the Chicken?” As it noted, today’s modern meat birds are bred to “live fast, die young,” but consumers are concerned—and put off—by the standard practices of the chicken industry. The ASPCA’s Truth About Chicken campaign is working to improve those practices. With your help, it can be chickens’ big year!
If you haven’t seen this incredible drone footage of a North Carolina industrial pig farm, we recommend it. But maybe wait until after lunch. Factory farming is not just bad for animals; as you’ll see, it wreaks havoc on the environment and local communities, too.
California has been in the news a lot lately, as new state laws took effect on January 1 banning cage confinement for pigs, egg-laying hens and veal calves. This change reflects consumer values and it’s time for it to spread to other states.
Our feathered friends made headlines all year long, from exposés of industry conditions to companies feeling consumer pressure to improve their practices. We’re proud of the part we’ve played in this movement and grateful to you for raising your voice on behalf of the billions of chickens raised each year in this country. Stay tuned in 2015 as we roll out exciting new ways to be involved in the Truth About Chicken. Together we can make a big difference in these animals’ lives!
Here are 14 of the year’s biggest chicken-related stories:
Chickens buried alive (June) Animal advocacy group Compassion Over Killing® investigated a Pilgrim’s Corp. chicken farm and found crowding, open wounds, lameness, chickens with mangled legs and workers burying sick birds alive in pits.
Tainted meat in China (July) A chicken processor supplying McDonald’s, Papa John’s, Burger King, and KFC restaurants in China found itself at the center of a scandal when a video surfaced showing workers repackaging expired meat and doctoring food-production dates.
Our dish of choice...chicken in chlorine sauce? (August) Europeans are so opposed to the common U.S. practice of bathing chicken carcasses in chlorine to kill bacteria that it became a sticking point in August negotiations over a free trade deal between the U.S. and Europe.
Nestlé gets nicer to farm animals (August) Nestlé announced an industry-leading animal welfare program that will eliminate many inhumane but standard practices within its food supply chain, including raising fast-growing chickens for meat.
A study on giant chickens freaked people out (October) A photograph in Poultry Science comparing modern chickens to those of the 1950s went viral. The underlying study detailed health problems facing today’s genetically manipulated birds, which include bone, heart, and immune system issues.
Consumer demand drives big chicken companies to drop the drugs (October) Tyson Foods and Perdue announced that they will no longer use antibiotics in their chicken hatcheries. It is industry practice to inject drugs into eggs and add it to feed to prevent diseases caused by the filthy conditions on factory farms.
Dirty birds in the UK (November) Scandal hit the British poultry industry when 8 out of 10 pieces of UK chicken sampled were found to be contaminated with Campylobacter, a strain of bacteria that causes food poisoning.
Horrendous conditions at a Koch Foods supplier exposed (November) Mercy for Animals (MFA) released footage from a Koch Foods supplier farm showing filthy, crowded sheds, violent abuse of birds during catching and slaughter, and birds boiled alive rather than stunned properly. MFA alleges that the farm supplies Chick-fil-A, but the chicken restaurant denies having done business with Koch since spring 2013.
One Perdue farmer speaks out (December) A Perdue contract farmer, Craig Watts, opened his doors to Compassion in World Farming to expose the inhumane conditions Perdue requires of farmers, as well as the welfare consequences of intense, selective breeding for growth.
The hug felt ‘round the world (April) In the face of a lot of depressing news, almost 2 million people watched a chicken hug it out with a sweet little boy.
Chicken Scratch is an ASPCA Blog feature that highlights interesting news about farm animals and farm animal welfare.
“They’re not happy. And they’re definitely not healthy.” These are the words of one fed-up contract farmer who allowed cameras into his barn to reveal exactly how factory-farmed chickens live. Watch the video and be sure to sign our petition calling on the chicken industry to improve their standards.