Several recent studies have shown that chickens are bright animals, able to solve complex problems, demonstrate self-control, and worry about the future. Chickens are smarter than cats or dogs and even do some things that have not yet been seen in mammals other than primates. Dr. Chris Evans, who studies animal behavior and communication at Macquarie University in Australia, says, “As a trick at conferences, I sometimes list these attributes, without mentioning chickens, and people think I’m talking about monkeys.” Dr. John Webster of Bristol University found that chickens are capable of understanding cause and effect and that when chickens learn something new, they pass on that knowledge (i.e., they have what scientists call “culture”).
2. All Drugged Up
Quite simply, chickens are the most abused animals on the planet. Chickens raised for their flesh are packed by the thousands into massive sheds. They are fed large amounts of antibiotics and drugs to keep them alive in conditions that would otherwise kill them. The antibiotics make chickens grow so large, so fast that they often become crippled under their own weight. This reckless use of antibiotics also makes drugs less effective for treating humans by speeding up the development of drug-resistant bacteria.
3. Scalded to Death
Only seven weeks after they are born, chickens are crowded onto trucks that transport them to the slaughterhouse. Tens of millions of chickens have their wings and legs broken in the process every year. They are trucked through all weather extremes, sometimes over hundreds of miles, without any food or water. At slaughter, chickens are hung upside-down and have their throats slit, and they are often scalded to death in defeathering tanks.
4. They Don’t Even Get a Lawyer
The billions of chickens killed each year are not protected by a single federal law—the “Humane Slaughter Act” exempts birds, even though there are more than 55 times as many chickens slaughtered each year as pigs and cows combined! Chickens raised for their flesh have their sensitive beaks cut off with a hot blade without any painkillers. These intelligent animals spend their entire lives in filthy sheds with tens of thousands of other birds, each getting about as much space as a sheet of paper, where intense crowding and confinement lead to outbreaks of disease. If factory-farm owners treated cats and dogs like they treat chickens, they would go to jail for cruelty to animals.
5. Do You Want Poop With That?
A USDA study found that more than 99 percent of broiler chicken carcasses sold in stores had detectable levels of E. coli, indicating fecal contamination. In other words, if you’re eating chicken flesh, you’re almost certainly eating poop. Consumer Reports states there are “1.1 million or more Americans sickened each year by undercooked, tainted chicken.” Chicken flesh is also loaded with dangerous levels of arsenic, which can cause cancer, dementia, neurological problems, and other ailments in humans. Men’s Health magazine recently ranked supermarket chicken number one in their list of the “10 Dirtiest Foods” because of the high rate of bacterial contamination.