The value of chicken meat is incontestable. Nutritionists tell us how healthy white meat is compared to red meat. But have you stopped to think of how many chickens are killed each day?
According to available global data, up to 136 million chickens meet the knife each day. Mind-boggling, right? Even such an estimate is way below what is on the ground.
You will agree with me that much more chickens are killed each day. Such data may not reach the statisticians. For instance, do you report when you slaughter a chicken in your backyard coop?
Where Do All These Chickens Come From?
The USA ranks as the third most prolific chicken farmer. Currently, there are as many as nine billion chickens raised for slaughter in the USA annually. More than 305 additional hens are raised for commercial egg production.
The 9 billion broilers came from backyard chicken farms and commercial poultry farms. Besides, some slaughterhouses that produce meat in large quantities import chicken.
Let’s dissect these sources:
Today, more than ever, backyard enthusiasts are adopting chicken farming. These birds aren’t just beautiful; they also offer a good source of side hustle.
Chicken is easier to raise and offers many benefits. You will not need a lot of space and capital to begin backyard chicken farming. Since you know you care for your chicken, they are sources of fresh, home-grown meat. The other benefits of backyard chicken include:
- Chickens lay eggs – great for breakfast
- Chicken poop creates excellent organic fertilizer
- Chickens help control weeds and bugs (including harmful ones)
- Chicken make wonderful pets
- Chicken offers natural garbage management
Commercial chicken farms:
Several large companies raise millions of chickens in their facilities for either meat or egg production. It’s a good business with a good return. However, the sheer number of birds the poultry farming factories raise makes management a nightmare.
The chickens, too, suffer. Broilers that are kept for their meat usually live in deplorable conditions on such farms. Many of them die before they mature for meat harvesting.
Commercially raised chickens aren’t happy at all. Here are some of the reasons why:
- As a backyard chicken hobbyist, you may find the conditions of factory chicken disheartening. Chickens are social birds. You will notice how much you bond with yours. Those in commercial poultry farms are denied such healthy interaction.
- Because the birds are too many, disease outbreaks spread quickly. Many birds may die prematurely. Employees of such farms have no relationship or bond with the birds. Therefore, they intentionally abuse the birds.
- Commercial chicken farmers design their facilities for maximum efficiency. Slaughtering processes result in excruciating deaths for the birds. Particular plants process as many as 175 chickens each minute.
- Chicken can live for up to 15 years if left to live naturally and under the best conditions. Experts have gone to great lengths to have the birds mature as quickly as possible. Today, some commercial poultry farms kill chickens after just 42 days of life.
- The super-fast maturing breeds are genetically modified. This predisposes them to many health problems that can kill them prematurely. Such chicken deaths may not be captured in the global statistics.
Are Layers Also Killed Each Day?
You may think the chicken kept for egg collection does not suffer the fate of broilers. The reverse is true. Chickens naturally nest. However, they aren’t allowed to.
Besides, they do not get the chance to bond and care for their young. They are also raised in cramped conditions with no sunlight access. And due to crowding, diseases spread pretty quickly, leading to the untimely and unsanctioned death of the birds.
Since the aim is egg production, such birds are explicitly bred to maximize laying speed. Naturally, hens weren’t created to lay as many eggs. This results in many health problems. You cannot say the same about backyard chicken.
Benefits of Chicken Meat
Nutritionists and health experts are now advising people to embrace white meat. Red meat from sources such as beef has been with several risk factors. These may include:
- Heart and blood vessels (cardiovascular)disease
- Cancer of the large intestines (colorectal cancer)
- Type two diabetes mellitus
- The increased total mortality rate
Chicken meat is white. Many studies have found out that white meat is rich in mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fatty acids. Too much scientific jargon? Do not worry. The terms refer to omega-three and omega-six fatty acids.
HDLs function to help reduce bad cholesterol (called LDL or low-density lipoproteins) in your body. Bad cholesterol builds up in the inner walls of your blood vessels. This can narrow them and cause increased blood pressure.
Furthermore, fat may break out from the wall of those vessels. It can then be carried through blood flow to distant organs with tiny blood vessels. Blockage of those vessels can lead to the death of cells in that area. An example of such blockage is stroke.
White meat also increases the concentration of good cholesterol (also known as HDL or high-density lipoproteins). HDL absorbs bad cholesterol and takes it back to the liver. This lowers the risk of developing heart and blood vessel disease. It also protects against stroke.
How Are Chicken Killed?
How chickens die differs in backyard chicken farms and commercial establishments. Let’s look at the way each of these happens.
Doing it at Home
Killing birds for meat at home may be a stressful event. All backyard chicken hobbyists know this. When it’s necessary to do so, you must do it humanely. The most typical way is to cut the neck with a sharp knife.
It would be best to approach the neck from the front and cut as close to the heat as possible. Experts recommend a single move. Thrusting back and forth can cause unnecessary pain to the chicken.
It’s good to put the bird in a funnel-like cone that is open at the lower end. Pull down the head of the chicken to reveal the neck. Allow the blood to drain out for the next three to five minutes.
You can then remove the bird and dip it in 160oC hot water. This will soften the feathers at their roots to allow you to pluck them. Finally, eviscerate the chicken to make it ready for cooking.
Commercial poultry processing factors have highly automated slaughtering methods. Describing the entire process is beyond my scope. Most companies claim they train their workers to handle the birds humanely.
The chickens are calmed by dim light and rub bars. For some reason, such things provide a comforting sensation to birds. They are then rendered unconscious and unaware of pain. The killing happens quickly with a single cut to the throat.
This is the best-case scenario. However, some slaughterhouses use inhumane methods to increase their efficiency.
Now you know just how many chickens are killed each day. The good news is that many people are becoming conscious of the plight of these noble birds. Therefore, new factory farming practices are gaining momentum.
The popularity of backyard chicken is increasing pretty fast. This results from the increased demand for humanely raised chickens and their eggs. Perhaps this will be a welcome change to factory-raised birds. Since many chickens will still die, it will happen humanely.