10 Things to Know About Factory-Farmed Chickens
As global chicken consumption grows each year, the mass production of meat chickens remains one of the biggest causes of animal suffering in the world. Here are ten facts about factory-farmed chickens raised for meat that consumers should know.
In recent years, consumers have demanded higher-welfare food products, and numerous major food businesses have pledged to convert to sourcing cage-free eggs. But the plight of meat chickens remains hidden from sight, with most people not knowing where the meat on their plate comes from. Here are 10 things to know about factory-farmed chickens.
1. 60 billion chickens are raised every year worldwide to be sold for their meat.
40 billion of these will be raised in giant, crowded sheds or cages and kept in dismal conditions that can cause painful heart, skin, lung, and bone problems as well as immense stress.
2. Chicken is now one of the world’s most popular meats.
Between 1996-2016, demand for chicken meat grew 22% in the United States, 38% in the European Union, 89% in China, and 183% in India. The average U.S. consumer is expected to consume 97.3 pounds of chicken meat in 2022, up from 95.7 in 2021 and 79.8 ten years ago.
3. A factory-farmed chicken lives an average of just 42 days.
Chickens bred for meat may look fully grown, but they are still babies when they are slaughtered.
4. Conversely, a chicken’s natural life expectancy is 5-10 years.
Factory farmed chickens’ life spans are much shorter than their natural life span. Their lives are sped up to maximize production.
5. Factory-farmed chickens gain, unnaturally, more than 1.76 ounces every day.
Their immune systems, organs, and legs cannot keep up, leading to a range of harmful physical ailments.
6. Specific breeds of chicken are bred only for meat.
These chickens are genetically selected for their ability to reach “slaughter weight” as fast as possible.
7. Around 2,000 meat chickens are slaughtered every second worldwide.
With such speedy production rates, factory farms focus on boosting profits fast rather than supporting chicken welfare.
8. By the time meat chickens are ready for slaughter, many live in a space smaller than an 8.5” x 11” piece of paper.
This cramped way of living is counter to chickens’ natural habitat, where they have the freedom to move and participate in natural behaviors.
9. Chickens love “dust-bathing:” digging a shallow hole to jump in and covering themselves in dry dust and dirt.
Dust-bathing is an essential natural behavior, keeping chickens’ feathers in good condition and removing parasites. Factory-grown chickens are commonly prevented from dust-bathing and carrying out other vital behaviors, such as pecking, scratching, and perching.
10. Seven out of ten (71%) chicken consumers polled globally by World Animal Protection admitted that, when buying chicken at a fast-food outlet, they never ask where it comes from.
As the demand for chicken meat continues to rise, we believe consumers should no longer be kept in the dark. Our new global poll reveals how little consumers know about the chicken on their plates.
The poll – of 12,000 people worldwide – shows that although people are concerned about what they eat, very few know where that meat has come from.
What the poll tells us about U.S. consumer views:
- Nine out of ten (89%) did not know that a chicken will only live on average 42 days.
- Of those who eat chicken, four out of five (77%) said they would not buy chicken from a fast-food chain if they knew it had suffered severe health problems as a result of living in a cramped industrial farm.
- Four out of five (81%) never ask where their chicken comes from at fast-food outlets.
What do you know about the chicken on your plate? Watch this short video to find out.
Our CEO, Steve McIvor, says:
“We need to expose the woefully poor conditions that many factory-grown chickens are living in. They suffer in secret, behind closed doors, and away from public view. KFC has a huge stake in the market with more than 18,000 outlets in 115 countries; we want to see them use their global influence to show they care about the welfare of chickens. This conveyor belt of rapidly grown chickens comes at a price. Behind the world’s favorite meat is an unacceptable cost of suffering that is increasing as the global demand for chicken grows.”
We are challenging fast food retailers such as KFC to improve the welfare of billions of chickens, because mass production is one of the biggest causes of animal suffering globally. We want to see:
- The use of chicken breeds that grow at a slower, more natural rate
- More living space for the chickens
- More enrichments for the chickens to engage with and explore, such as perches and hay bales
- The introduction of natural light in the sheds
You can help improve the lives of 60 billion chickens by pledging to purchase chicken meat only from high-welfare sources, reduce your chicken consumption, and demand that major companies treat their birds with compassion and provide better living conditions.