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Factory Farmed Poultry

Factory Farm HensBirds on factory farms may be raised for meat or eggs. Whether bound for slaughter or a short life in a confinement crate, chickens, ducks, and turkeys suffer on factory farms. Read the following FAQs to learn more about the factory farming of poultry.

What is a poultry factory farm?
A poultry factory farm is a large-scale farm operation that produces chickens, turkeys, ducks, and sometimes geese in cramped, filthy conditions. The birds have no access to the outside or even windows.

How does a factory farm affect the birds that live there?
The birds are never given the chance to breathe fresh air or feel the sun on their beaks. They live in their own excrement, urine, and vomit. Their beaks are sometimes cut off with a hot blade so that they won’t peck each other. Toes may also be removed.

How does a factory farm affect the environment?
Pollution caused by the factory farming manure run-off can pollute ponds, lakes, creeks, rivers, ground water, and wells. Bacteria, such as pfisteria, can kill aquatic plant and animal life and have caused human illness and death.

How many birds are raised in factory farms each year?
There are approximately 300 million egg-laying hens, a quarter billion turkeys, more than 24 million ducks, and ten billion broiler chickens.

What is a battery cage?
Battery cages are typically made of wire and typically house between five and ten egg-laying hens, limiting the birds’ space to the size of an 8 ½ X 11” sheet of paper. Many birds cannot reach food and water. They become entangled by their necks and feet in the wire and live the entirety of their lives in these cages.

I buy only “free-range” poultry. Isn’t that the humane option?
The term free-range simply means that the chickens are not confined to cages. They may be able to roam around a severely crowded warehouse, but they are not able to perform the behaviors inherent in chickens and rarely do they see the outdoors, their natural habitat.

What can I do to change what is happening to chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese?

  • Substitute veggie and soy-based products for poultry products.
  • Visit a farm sanctuary and observe poultry species in their natural habitat.
  • Learn more about factory farming and educate others.
  • Support legislation to require stricter regulation and enforcement of animal farming welfare and treatment laws.
  • Download and print or mail order NHES’ Factory Farms brochure to distribute in your community.
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