Scientists: Millions of Chickens Are Slaughtered While Still Conscious

A recent Huffington Post article discusses how scientists believe millions of chickens are slaughtered each year while still conscious.

Chickens comprise 95 percent of the animals raised and killed for food in the U.S. and lead some of the most miserable lives of all farmed animals. According to the article, roughly 9 billion chickens are slaughtered for food each year in the United States.

In order to stun these sentient animals before slitting their throats, the poultry industry shackles them upside down by their feet to a conveyor belt, often breaking their legs, and runs them through a vat of electrified water.

In theory, this should stun the birds and decrease suffering, but scientists now say that brain activity indicates these animals may be able to experience pain, first when they receive a paralyzing electric shock that induces tonic muscle seizures, and again when their throats are forced against a sharpened blade.

This means tens of millions of chickens likely experience agonizing slaughter.

Nico Pitney, senior editor at The Huffington Post, writes:
The extent of suffering is almost certainly vast. If just 1 percent of chickens raised each year in the U.S. are not effectively stunned, it means roughly 90 million animals are experiencing a violent and painful death. That’s more than the total number of dogs kept as pets in this country.
Additionally, the USDA estimates that about 1 million birds a year are boiled alive. Because the killing line moves so quickly, many birds are improperly shackled, miss the blade entirely, and are fully conscious when dumped into the boiling water. One can’t even fathom the suffering these birds must endure.

To make matters worse, the law that’s supposed to protect animals at the slaughterhouse, the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, does not extend to birds, leaving chickens with virtually no protection from abuse.

What’s more, no federal law protects animals during their lives on factory farms.

Earlier this year, a Mercy For Animals undercover investigation at a Tyson chicken farm showed just how terrible life is for these animals.


Chickens are sensitive and intelligent beings who deserve to be treated better. In fact, they’re so smart that they understand recently hidden objects still exist. This is beyond the capability of a two-year-old child.

Thankfully, it’s easier than ever to help chickens. By switching to a compassionate vegan diet, you withdraw your support from this cruel industry.

Click here for a list of mouthwatering plant-based chicken substitutes.

Click here for tips on making the transition to a cruelty-free lifestyle.