There are more chickens in the world than any other bird. In fact, more than 50 billion chickens are farmed annually as a source of food, for both their meat and eggs.
Chickens farmed for meat are called broiler chickens, while those farmed for eggs are called egg-laying hens.
The natural life of chickens
Chickens are gregarious birds and live together as a flock with a distinct hierarchy or “pecking order.” They would naturally spend most of their day foraging for food, scratching the ground looking for insects and seeds.
Chickens tend to range widely, moving to open areas to forage for food during the day and then returning to the “roost” (rest) up in the trees during the night for safety from predators. Hens also make nests and lay their eggs in the protective cover of thick vegetation.
Life on some farms and small holdings is just like that. The birds go out into open pasture to search for food and then sleep up on perches at night. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the 50 billion chickens reared each year experience intensive farming methods.
The reality of life on factory farms
Different methods are used for farming egg-laying hens and broiler chickens.