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Chickens deserve better

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We all want to know our food comes from healthy growing situations. This includes our beef, pork and poultry. The truth is, most chickens are raised in dirty, cramped living quarters and are bred to grow so large at a fast pace that the animal can hardly walk. Most of their time is spent lying in their own feces.

Chickens bred and raised in these conditions means the animal's skin is typically found with sores and wounds that are open to various infections. The welfare of these birds can be improved greatly by using slower-growing breeds that are raised in clean conditions.

The sad truth about today's chickens not only confirms our worst fears, but raises new concerns about their welfare...and ours.

--Matt Bershacker

ASPCA President & CEO

The poor conditions chickens are raised in today are factory farms. The ASPCA reports that of the 9 billion animals raised and slaughtered for meat are mostly chickens that come from factory farms. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is concentrating on these types of situations across America.

The ASPCA researched farms across the nation, snapping photos, interviewing farmers and researching variables of chicken characteristics such as intelligence and found most are living in horribly cruel and inhumane conditions.

Most chicken factory farming is under legal standards. There aren't many laws in place that specify what cruel and inhumane conditions are. The two federal laws that have been implemented to protect animals from cruel conditions do not cover birds. These laws impact transportation and slaughter for the most part and don't incorporate farm life for the animals. Inspectors from the U.S. Department of Agriculture are not asked to visit farms to investigate how the animals are treated before slaughter. The USDA inspectors only appear at the time of slaughter to ensure the humane death of these animals.

Because of the lack of laws in this area, the ASPCA had dedicated its time to a new campaign - "The Truth About Chickens" - to bring the inhumane treatment of chickens on factory farms to the attention of consumers and farmers. Slower-growing breeds and cleaner, healthier conditions are at the top of the list of concerns.

Chickens used to look like an adult in about 12 weeks after birth. The chickens grown now are adult in appearance at approximately six weeks of age. Due to selective breeding, chickens are reaching their adult size in about half the time, while weighing in at twice the normal weight for their age.

Over-sized breasts are creating top heavy chickens, making it so blood cannot circulate to the muscles. This causes living tissue to decay, producing a diseased chicken. The disease for this condition is known as Green Muscle Disease.

Chickens cannot support twice the weight they should be, causing their legs to give out. Chickens are experiencing pain due to this weight. Sometimes, this condition can become so severe that the chicken cannot reach food and water.

The unnatural growth pattern of these chickens cause the heart and lungs to work twice as hard to maintain the circulatory and respiratory systems of the body. Chickens born this way may have difficulty breathing, low stamina or may even suffer heart failure.

Chickens that are bred to grow this quickly may spend most of their lives lying down. This causes sores and wounds to open, leaving a gateway to infection.

Selective breeding can also cause an insatiable appetite, causing the chicken to eat constantly.

Because of all of these concerns, the ASPCA is investigating but could use your help. To find out more about these factory farm chickens, visit www.truthaboutchicken.org.

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