If you eat chicken from Tyson Foods—which supplies McDonald’s, KFC, Chick-fil-A and more—you may be supporting some of the most sickening animal abuse imaginable.
Chicken is by far the most popular meat in the United States. In 2010, chicken overtook beef as the country’s most-consumed meat. The chicken industry predicts that this appetite will only grow. America is on track to consume 91.5 pounds of chicken per capita this year, an increase from 90 pounds in 2015. By 2017, Americans will be eating 93 pounds of chicken per capita—more than double the amount we ate 40 years ago.
However, there are major problems with America’s favorite meat. About 99 percent of chickens raised for meat in the United States are raised in factory farms. Slaughtering the 9 billion broiler chickens America ate last year is a labor- and resource-intensive process that takes a massive toll not just on the environment, but on the workers who raise and process these animals for you to eat.
But before going into that, let’s look at the short and brutal life of a factory-farmed chicken.
Sickening animal abuse
“Chickens are arguably the most abused animals on the planet,” Sarah Von Alt, a communications specialist at Mercy for Animals, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit animal advocacy group, told AlterNet.
Whereas the life expectancy of a backyard chicken can be between 10 to 15 years, a broiler chicken lives for about 40 days. Chickens are social, intelligent creatures, capable of forming emotional bonds, but today’s broiler chickens are purposely bred into meat-producing machines.
Von Alt described how a broiler chicken’s unnaturally rapid growth rates causes incredible suffering as they are crippled and rendered immobile from their own weight. This leaves them in constant pain and many die of organ failure. Antibiotics are used to keep them growing in filthy and stressful conditions that would otherwise kill them very quickly.