Chicken industry giants like to tell the public they are moving towards humane and ethical poultry farming, but behind the humane labels and promises to guarantee better practices, most poultry companies have actually cut corners to save money at the cost of animal welfare and our health.
“Free range” is one of the most potentially misleading labels because of the discrepancy between what it implies and what is required to make the claim. The “free range” claim on a label suggests that the animals were able to range freely outdoors. However, the claim does not have to be verified through on-farm inspections, and producers can make the claim on a label as long as the animals were given some access to an outdoor area of unspecified size.
The USDA’s definition for “Free Range” is that birds must have “outdoor access” or “access to the outdoors.” In some cases, this can mean access only through a “pop hole,” with no full-body access to the outdoors and no minimum space requirement. Chicken and eggs labeled “free range” therefore do not necessarily come from birds that ranged freely outdoors.
Upon entering one of these “chicken factories” you can be hit by a “wall of ammonia” from the “sea of white” chickens. There are tens of thousands of birds defecating on the ground and the ammonia, which causes the strong smell, also causes burns to the chicken’s chests and pads of their feet. Over the past 50 years, chickens have been bred to be bigger and bigger, exposing many to injury, heart attacks, disease, and death. In addition to the impact on the animals, all this ammonia also causes pollution of our waterways.
The conditions for battery caged chickens are even worse. But either way, the chickens wind up in the slaughterhouse. Working in the slaughterhouse is horrible and often very abusive. And, this all to produce unhealthful food.
The solution to all this suffering by humans and chickens is simple: to give up eating chickens, and choose a plant-based diet!