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Baby birds, bred to suffer: Chicken Meat Industry Exposed

SAFE has released footage from an Auckland chicken farm that would shock most meat-eaters.

The footage shows dead and dying chickens; including stranded birds that have fallen on their backs, unable to get up. Many of the chickens have red-raw skin, as a result of lying in their own excrement.

SAFE’s Head of Campaigns Marianne Macdonald says the condition of these helpless animals is a result of the industry’s breeding programs.

"These baby birds are so overweight and unbalanced, they are at high risk of toppling over on their backs. That can be an early death sentence on a factory farm," says Ms Macdonald.

"While the footage is shocking, what it shows is something that could be found hidden behind the walls of any chicken factory farm in New Zealand. Suffering and death are commonplace, which is the result of extreme selective breeding. We call these ‘SAD’ chickens, because they are sick and deformed. These birds are pushed beyond what their bodies can cope with."

The chicken breeds used in the meat industry grow so fast that they reach their slaughter weight in six weeks, which results in severe compromises to their welfare. Many drop dead from heart failure, and for those that make it through the first few weeks, almost a third suffer painful lameness. NZ poultry industry spokesperson Michael Brooks has confirmed that thousands die every day.

SAFE Veterinary Science Advisor Dr Roz Holland says, "Selection for very fast growth in these birds has resulted in significant physical changes which come with associated welfare problems. There is strong evidence that increased growth rates are associated to chronically painful lameness."

"The easiest way for caring Kiwis to help chickens is by taking them off their plate and instead, choose delicious plant-based alternatives," adds Ms Macdonald.

"An increasing number of overseas supermarkets and food retailers are responding to public concern about SAD chickens by moving away from fast-grow breeds. Chickens that grow slower, don’t have the same level of health problems and suffering," adds Ms Macdonald.

"The move to ‘slow-grow’ breeds is already happening in Europe and parts of the United States. New Zealand is lagging behind," says Ms Macdonald.


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