Earlier this year I picked up a rescue chicken thinking it was an ex layer, and realised to my horror that I had a broiler.
See our posts on Bello the broiler rooster. 6kgs of chicken!
A broiler is a chicken bred for the meat industry. These poor creatures are gentically modified to go from 0 to slaughter in 6 weeks. They have massively accelerated growth, which has painful and gross side effects. Heart and organ complications, severe growing pains – as their legs bones battle to grow in accordance with their rapidly growing bodies. Often lameness leaves them flopping about pathetically on the floor.
‘Most chickens don’t get to live their natural bird lives. Hens and roosters raised for meat typically are crowded into poorly ventilated sheds with 20,000 other birds of the same age and sex. They are trucked off to be killed at six or eight weeks of age, catching their first breath of fresh air only as they are on the way to a ghastly death. Hens in egg factories live longer but endure more torture. Confined in cages so small that they cannot open their wings or even lie down comfortably, they are driven mad by boredom, despair, periodic hunger, and chronic pain. After close to two years of such horror, they too are trucked off to slaughter’ – Eastern Shore sanctuary
Bellos journey was painful and sad for us all, and I have actively avoided broilers since then. They are walking (or in most cases, not walking) heartbreak. They are designed to die and suffer to provide us with cheap animal protein.
In June this year, we took 80 chickens from an NSPCA rescue.
Despite my concerns that these were broilers, I was assured they were not. Just badly treated and overweight. Both were true of them. What is not true, however, is that 3 months down the line, I now know that these are broilers. These girls, despite being on a farm and free ranging, have not lost weight, infact they are getting fatter by the day. They are displaying all the foot problems that occur when their bodies are too heavy. They are listless, do not forage much, and do a lot of open mouthed breathing in hot weather because of their heavy bodies. Most of them weigh in excess of 3kgs. A slim healthy layer weighs between 1 kg and 2 kgs.
I am not sure many of these girls will make it through the heat of summer, and of course we have an eye on lameness, and monitor the pain they are in when they walk around. All these are determining factors as to wether we choose to euthanase that particular hen or not. We are going to have to constantly monitor the quality of their lives and make some heartbreaking descisions.
Please be aware that the chicken you eat at restaurants, buy from supermarkets, and is present in baked goods, is all from broilers. By buying and eating chicken you are enabling this horrendous industry.
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