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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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When will the gluttonous public stop eating flesh and when will governments stop the fast food billionaires using factory farmed animals? Probably never because pollies need votes and money to stay in power.

Winifred Healey

Well said, Magda! The governments will try anything to accumilate votes and money, it doesn't matter whether it be, conservative, liberal or labour. Once they are in power they stop worrying about things that matter to the people, or, in fact, to animals and anything else that lives on the earth. Why should they care?:
they've (got the POWER!!!)


Vast majority are meat eaters, so they get the pol's attention


sorry for the triple post. Wish there were a delete feature/


Vast majority are meat eaters, so they get the pol's attention


Vast majority are meat eaters, so they get the pol's attention


While I am AGAINST animal cruelty in any form, I totally dislike people who try to foist their vegan tastes on me...I resent being called gluttonous because I eat meat...Animals were created by God for food, companionship and to wonder at NOT to be idolized...


They probably call u gluttonous because u really believe that GOD put animals here for us to eat...Eat ur chicken if thats ur desire ur life but please dont justify any life that u did not create...

Barbara Borah

Joyce, are you a Christian?

Laurie obviously don't read well. In the Bible, it says God gave us dominion over the animals.....that means to care for them not eat them!!!! Jesus did not eat animal flesh and he advocated against animal sacrifice. As it also says along the lines...However you treat the least of mine, you are treating me! We were not meant to eat meat, we do not have the jaws or teeth to take down an animal with our teeth and jaws and devour them as animal carnivores do. AND, after you reach 40, this animal consumption comes back and bites you in the ass with severe health problems. It is the meat eaters that are clogging the health system with the clogging of their arteries and hearts because of eating animals. Then you all cry out in pain for yourselves "why me?" You are trying to justify your filthy habit by claiming religion? God DID NOT create man in His own created God in his OWN image....for free license to torture, plunder and murder those that are defenseless for the sole purpose of self-gratification!!