Millions of chicks are bred for slaughter at 35 days old, RSPCA warns

Millions of British chickens are bred to grow to full size in just 35 DAYS leading to shocking damage to legs, hearts and lungs, RSPCA warns

  • Millions of factory farm chickens are being grown twice as fast than in the 1950s
  • New study shows fast-growing birds are up to twice as likely to die or be culled
  • Animal charity RSPCA says many of these birds endure a life ‘not worth living’  

Millions of chickens bred to grow at an unnaturally fast rate on factory farms are suffering shocking cruelty, the RSPCA claims.

The charity says most of the billion birds reared each year in the UK grow from chicks to adult slaughter weight in just 35 days – twice as fast as in the 1950s as a result of special breeding programmes by genetics companies.

The driving factor is profit and a desire for cheap chicken by supermarkets, restaurants and shoppers.

The RSPCA says many of the birds endure a life ‘not worth living’. The charity is calling on supermarkets and caterers to support a switch to slower growing breeds, which are stronger and healthier to eat. A stock image is used above [File photo]

However, the bodies of the birds go through extraordinary changes that lead to damage to their legs, hearts and lungs.

The legs cannot cope and buckle and break, leaving the birds stranded in their own mess on barn floors.

At the same time the heart and lungs struggle to cope, leading to suffering and high death rates.

The RSPCA says many of the birds endure a life ‘not worth living’. The charity is calling on supermarkets and caterers to support a switch to slower growing breeds, which are stronger and healthier to eat.

Some companies, such as KFC, Marks & Spencer and Waitrose, have already taken a lead.

The charity, in partnership with World Animal Protection and the Farm Animal Welfare Forum, commissioned a study to compare the health, welfare and production characteristics of three fast-growing breeds against those for a slower-growing breed.

The results of the study, carried out by Scotland’s Rural College, showed that fast-growing birds were up to twice as likely to die or be culled primarily due to ill health.

The charity says most of the billion birds reared each year in the UK grow from chicks to adult slaughter weight in just 35 days – twice as fast as in the 1950s as a result of special breeding programmes by genetics companies

They were up to four times more likely to suffer from hockburn, or sores on their legs from resting on the mess in their coops.

The fast-growing birds were up to 3.5 times more likely to suffer from moderate to severe lameness and require culling.

The RSPCA’s Kate Parkes said: ‘People are eating more chicken because they think it’s a healthy option but they would be horrified by the suffering these birds endure by being born into bodies which simply grow too fast.

‘The scale of this problem is vast… and we need to tackle it quickly. This study is the first of its kind in the UK to compare these fast-growing birds with a slower-growing breed and the results are clear: the genetics of these breeds impacts their welfare to such an extent that many could be considered as having a life not worth living.

‘They are far more likely to experience serious suffering from health issues like lameness, heart attack and hockburn to an inability to live the “normal” life of a chicken.’

The UK head of campaigns for World Animal Protection, James MacColl, said: ‘The study findings clearly show fast-growing chicken breeds suffer from terrible health issues and many will live their short lives in pain and distress.

‘Brands such as KFC, M&S and Waitrose have already committed to only use chicken breeds that grow at a more natural rate and we are calling on others to follow their lead.’

The British Poultry Council said: ‘Bird health and welfare remains a top priority for poultry meat farmers. Any compromise on bird health and welfare is not in anyone’s interest.’

The results of the study, carried out by Scotland’s Rural College, showed that fast-growing birds were up to twice as likely to die or be culled primarily due to ill health

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