Animal Protection > Worldwide Actions > New Zealand

Broiler chickens are chickens raised for their meat. They are reared in packed sheds, with up to 45,000 other chickens. This often gives each chicken a space the size of an A4 piece of paper. They live in these sheds for the whole of their 6-7 weeks lives, growing much faster than they would naturally, because of selective breeding. This causes them many health problems.

Due to the filthy conditions they live in, they are given antibiotics in their feed to keep them "healthy". This often has a growth promoting effect. The birds grow so fast that their legs can often not support their oversized bodies, leading to many crippled birds. The ground is covered in wood shavings and their own waste, creating a disgusting mess to live in. Humans entering these sheds must wear protective masks due to the ammonia in their urine. The birds are kept close together to prevent calorie burning movement, to create heat, and to make the most profitable use of space. All of this increases the likelihood of a chicken carrying deadly bacteria, like Salmonella.

As if the life of a broiler chicken wasn't hellish enough, their death is even worse. The chickens, who survived their six weeks in a broiler shed (many more die before reaching six weeks), are grabbed by their legs, often as many as five at a time, and thrown into crates. Their brittle bones often suffer breakages during this period. Many die on the way to the slaughterhouse. These could be considered the lucky ones. The chickens are then removed from the crates, and hung up by their feet on a kind of conveyor belt.

They are then dragged through electrically charged water, meant to render them unconscious, but often failing to do so. The birds are then dragged through a decapitation machine, which slices their throats, though some birds lift up their heads, and avoid the blade, having to be sliced manually. Some are missed again and end up being plucked alive. The entire process is mechanical, inaccurate, and totally unethical.