Chickens are friendly and smart, just like dogs. Scientists have found that chickens begin to communicate with their chicks long before they’ve hatched. Sadly, chickens are also among the most abused animals.

Genetic Manipulation

To maximise profits, hens raised on modern day factory farms are bred to grow so large that by the time they’re one month old, their legs cannot support their weight. Many chickens become lame and slowly die from not being able to reach food or water.

Discarding Chicks

Shortly after birth, the workers separate male chicks from the females by handling them roughly by their genitals. Since male chicks cannot lay eggs, they’re discarded in gruesome ways. Some of the common practices include crushing them in industrial grinders, suffocating them in plastic bags, drowning, burning, and dumping them into fish farms. 5 to 10% of chicks, male and female, are rejected due to organ deformities or weakness and meet the same fate.

Photo by Julie O’Neill

Debeaking

When chickens are confined in such large numbers, they vent their stress and frustration by pecking at one another. To reduce losses, the workers use hot blades to cut off chicks’ beaks just hours after the birds hatch. The procedure is so painful that many chicks die of shock, or die of starvation and dehydration when they’re unable to eat or drink.

Intensive Confinement

In egg farms, birds are confined in wire enclosures called “battery cages” that are arranged in rows, one upon the other. The egg industry forces 4 to 8 hens into a cage—the size of two A4 size sheets—where they cannot turn around or spread their wings for two years. This also results in the hens lying in their own waste, which is almost never cleaned. Their claws grow gnarled and can twist around the wire floors of the cages, causing painful injuries.

Photo by Julie O’Neill

Live animal markets

If not raised on factory farms, the birds may be kept in live animals markets where they’re crammed in filthy, rusting cages without access to food or water. Many of them are severely sick and do not get any veterinary care. They’re also slaughtered in full view of other animals.

References:
1. From Shell to Hell: The Plight of Chicks in the Indian Egg and Meat Industries, A report by PETA India and Anonymous for Animal Rights
2. Cruel Chicken Production of India, Animal Equality India
3. India’s cruelty towards chickens is unbearably horrifying, by Jayasimha Nuggehalli