Vegetarians International Voice for Animals

Chickens - Broiler

Every day in the UK 2.5 million chickens are cruelly slaughtered for meat – that’s 30 deaths every second – each one an individual, each one a life lost.

Broiler chickens

Chickens are thinking, feeling animals who, like most birds, love and care for their young and enjoy dustbathing, nest-building and roosting in trees. They also form friendships and a complex pecking order.

Yet every day in the UK 2.5 million chickens are cruelly slaughtered for meat – that’s 30 deaths every second – each one an individual, each one a life lost. But surely a massacre of this magnitude would take an army to stop, right?

Only an army of one. You!  End their suffering by going vegan - or at least moving in that direction.

Most of the chickens killed for meat never see the light of day. Their six week life is spent inside a foul-smelling windowless shed with 30-40,000 other chickens, each with only a space the size of an A4 sheet of paper. They never feel sunlight or breathe fresh air – until they’re crammed into a lorry and hauled off to the slaughterhouse. Over 850 million chickens suffer this fate every year in the UK.

Freaks of Nature

Selectively bred to reach ‘slaughter size’ in just 41 days, today’s chickens are killed when their eyes are still blue and they ‘cheep’ – chicks in an obese adult body. By the time they are slaughtered most of them are crippled, their young bones unable to support their distorted body weight.

Some lame birds die from starvation and dehydration as they are unable to reach food and water. Millions more die from heart and lung problems brought on by their rapid growth. Over 80% of birds on supermarket shelves show evidence of hock burns, where their sensitive skin has been scorched by the ammonia-rich faeces covering the shed floor.

A Recipe for Disaster

The cramped conditions and accelerated growth rate on modern farms have resulted in birds that are higher in fat than protein – with a single chicken now containing one pint of fat! The squalor inside the sheds allows germs to spread like wildfire, with infected poultry the main source for both Salmonella and Campylobacter food poisoning. Antibiotics are routinely added to chicken feed to try and combat these diseases, contributing to the new wave of antibiotic-resistant superbugs wreaking havoc in British hospitals.

Find out more: Viva!'s broiler chicken factsheet.

A Bad Egg

Exhausted caged hens (egg laying hens) are also slaughtered and processed into soups, stock cubes, 'convenience foods' or used in the restaurant trade. Around 30 million male chicks (who are too skinny for meat) are killed every year in the UK by being gassed or thrown alive into electric mincers. Their crime? They are the wrong sex to lay eggs.

Find out more: Viva!'s Cracked campaign.