The recent article “The Fight Against Factory Farms” (EW 4/14) does a great job describing why expanding factory farms in Oregon would be catastrophic to the environment and residents. It doesn’t mention the impact on the thousands, often millions, of animals trapped inside.
From hatching to slaughter, these birds endure pain, confusion and terror on the ground floor of our broken food system. The chickens can’t perch, roost or feel the sun on their feathers. These barns lack natural light, leaving the space dim and the air dank. Feces accumulate on the sodden floors, and the toxic ammonia generated by the waste leaves raw burns and lesions all over the chickens’ bodies.
The typical lifespan of a backyard chicken can be anywhere from five to 12 years. On factory farms, however, the average slaughter age hovers around just six or seven weeks. When they do reach that age, having spent the bulk of their days gaining unnatural weight in a dim, dirty sea of other birds, meat chickens most commonly die by a method called “live-shackle slaughter” — a gruesome practice that subjects chickens to electrocution, throat slashing and boiling, sometimes alive.
In this era of rethinking our role in the environment and in mindful purchase practices, we should rethink factory farm meat in any location.