If you’ve ever met a chicken, you’ll know what curious, charismatic and all-round hilarious creatures they can be! However, the sad truth is that these unique and clever individuals are kept in some of the most appalling conditions of any animals in the UK.
Chickens are farmed both for eggs and chicken meat. Both of these entail significant cruelty to the chickens. Chickens reared for meat are called broilers, while egg-laying hens are a separate breed.
Chickens naturally live anywhere from 5 to 12 years, but broiler chickens are usually killed at 6-7 weeks old once they have reached ‘slaughter weight’.
These 42 days of life are generally spent inside with thousands of other birds. They are fed huge amounts of grain in order to grow plump and fat as quickly as possible. This causes a lot of health issues, including heart attacks, lung problems, and broken bones from their skeleton being unable to support them.
At any one time, 120,000,000 of these broiler chickens are alive. Over 1 billion (that’s 1,000,000,000) of these chickens are killed annually just in the UK alone.
People often think that chicken is the healthiest, kindest and most eco-friendly meat available. None of this is true – especially when compared to plant-based meats!
Even free-range and organic broiler chickens spend most of their lives indoors and are killed at just over two months old.
People often think that ‘free-range’ and ‘organic’ mean that animal products are ethical – but in reality, they are hardly different to standard practice at all!
Only female chickens lay eggs, so the males are pointless to the industry. Life is short for these male chickens – they are usually ground up at just a few days old and chucked in the bin. Others are suffocated in large bags.
Most females will then spend a majority of their lives sat in cages or in large, tightly-packed barns, laying eggs as frequently as possible.
Because eggshells are rich in calcium, an important nutrient, the hens quickly become calcium deficient. Since calcium is important for good bone health, the skeletons of these birds become weak, and their health suffers greatly as a result.
People will often ask, “But what if I keep hens in my backyard and eat their eggs?”
The problem is the same: calcium! Even backyard hens need calcium. The best way of ensuring they live healthy, happy lives is to feed their eggs back to them. This keeps their skeletons strong and their bodies functioning.
Plus, we don’t need to eat eggs at all! Try our super-simple scrambled tofu recipe instead!