In just 32 days a broiler its battle weight. Like hardly any other type of livestock, rapid growth and highly intensified husbandry lead to suffering, illness and damage.
In the EU, more than six billion broilers slaughtered, 756 million of them in Germany. Along with other poultry species such as turkeys and ducks, broilers account for the largest share of total poultry meat production in the EU¹. Currently, Poland is the country that produces the most broilers within the EU².
The light poultry meat is considered low in fat and is very popular. The average German consumer consumes around 12 kilograms of chicken meat per year. The production of chicken meat has increased from 552 million animals in 2006 to 756 million animals in 2011. The (worldwide) market is shared by a few corporations.
The ultimate goal of intensive broiler production: to produce as much meat as possible at the lowest possible cost. In order to achieve this goal, many animals are kept in a small space. They should grow to be ready for slaughter as quickly as possible with little feed consumption.
The animals pay the price for this: behavioral disorders, diseases and high mortality rates (five to 7.5 percent³) are the result. Often more than 30 percent of broilers are sick or injured when they arrive at the slaughterhouse.
Due to the extreme performance breeding and poor husbandry conditions, around 40 to 45 million animals die each year in Germany alone. They are disposed of as «waste».
Not only the chickens used for meat production suffer for fattening. Also in the Breeding of broilers Methods are used that are relevant to animal welfare.
Due to their rapid weight gain, high-bred fattening breeds have major reproductive problems. By the time they become sexually mature at 24 weeks of age, they typically already weigh over six kilograms. This extreme weight leads to various diseases and a high mortality rate. This in turn reduces the rate of reproduction – because a seriously ill or dead chicken cannot reproduce.
The «solution» to the problem that is often chosen in practice is at the expense of the animals: Poultry farms starve their breeding animals until they are sexually mature. They get just 40 percent or less of the amount of food they would eat if they had free access to food. In this way, weight gain is artificially delayed, the rate of reproduction increased – and the parents continue to pass on the trait of rapid weight gain to their offspring.
But they pay a high price for it: chronic hunger leads to increased aggressive behavior and cannibalism. This practice contradicts European and national laws that aim to guarantee all livestock adequate nutrition.