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Out of sight, out of mind

Animal welfare

The modern broiler chicken is unnaturally large and has been bred to grow at an unnaturally fast rate. This selective breeding comes with serious welfare consequences:

  • Leg disorders: skeletal, developmental and degenerative diseases
  • Heart and lung problems, breathing difficulty, and premature death
  • Mutilations including de-toeing, clipping, beak trimming and other surgical procedures performed without anesthetic

In Georgia, the typical grow house is 50 feet wide and 500 feet long- over 35% longer than a football field. While that may sound large, one house can contain more than 30,000 chickens.  At such densities, each bird at slaughter weight has only about as much floor space as this piece of paper. 

Thirty thousand chickens crowded together in an enclosed area produce enormous amounts of animal waste, which accumulates over the growth cycle.

At the end of the ‘growth cycle’, chickens are caught manually and placed into crates that transport them to slaughter. The crates are stacked 10 high.

Environment

Georgia’s industrial poultry operations produce enormous volumes of waste. Collectively, they generate approximately 2 million tons of poultry litter annually, about 20% of the US total.

  • When waste is over-applied to crops, it can seep into the lakes, rivers and aquifers of Georgia, impairing water quality
  • Recreational use, waterfront property values, water quality and fish biodiversity all decline with excess waste in rivers and lakes
  • Broiler waste may contain arsenic, a human carcinogen.

Human health

The factory farming of chicken is having a negative impact on human health in the form of foodborne illnesses and antibiotic resistance:

  • Food illnesses related to poultry consumption cost the United States over $2.4 billion annually, more than any other food
  • Almost 80% of all antibiotics are used on food animals
  • US households lost approximately $35 billion in 2000 to antibiotic-resistant infections

Workers

Growers, catchers and processing plant workers are detrimentally impacted by the factory farming of broiler chickens.

  • Line workers must keep pace with fast-moving animals on conveyor belts, often having to repeat the same cutting motions 20,000-30,000 times each day, leading to an array of musculoskeletal disorders.
  • Handlers of live chickens are exposed to respiratory toxins and risk developing lung-related illnesses and other health problems.
  • Contract growers have difficulty making ends meet due to a growing gap between income and operational costs, as well as diminished bargaining power with the few large companies that now dominate the market

Alternatives

Since 2005, Georgia has seen a 600% increase in farmers’ markets

Organic food sales in the US have grown annually at an average rate of 19% from 1997-2008

Georgia has become the leading broiler producer in the nation, but only at great costs to animal welfare, human and environmental health, and farmers and workers.  We believe Georgia can become a leader in promoting a fair, humane and sustainable alternative.

Out of sight
2/9/2012

"Out of sight, out of mind: the impacts of chicken meat factory farming in the state of Georgia". An investigation report produced by CIWF USA for Georgians for Pastured Poultry (GPP).

Download: Out of Sight | Size (2.24MB)