The Poultry Industry's Forgotten, Starving Mothers

13562570813_483a9bc4a4_b.jpgHarish at Counting Animals has written about the mothers of the chickens we eat for meat. Termed "broiler breeders," these mothers have their feed restricted to an astonishing and inhumane one-third of what they would naturally eat.

In an effort to maximize profits, the poultry industry has genetically selected chickens to grow so large, so fast that they become crippled under their own weight. Skeletal disorders, lameness, and immobility are common as these babies balloon up to six times their natural weight. Despite being a mere five or six weeks old when they are sent to slaughter, many of these "broiler" chickens have already suffered from organ failure, including heart attacks.

These babies are too young to be able to reproduce, but they are already losing the ability to even walk, and are dying from "old age" disorders. Yet the poultry industry needs some of the females to stay alive into reproductive age so that they can lay the eggs that will become future broiler chickens.

These unlucky mothers are starved to prevent them from dropping dead under the grotesque weight they have been bred to reach. Fed only enough food to keep them alive, these animals go insane from the hunger and stress, pecking at the walls, floor, and empty feeders in a desperate attempt to satiate themselves.

Mercy For Animals Canada has exposed the cruelty inherent in genetically manipulating turkeys' growth, and has called on the turkey industry to immediately stop breeding turkeys to grow so quickly that they become crippled under the own weight.

We have also shown how chicks born into the broiler industry are treated like machinery, being thrown, dropped, crushed, and scalded alive.

This Mother's Day, considering showing compassion for the poultry industry's forgotten, starving mothers by electing to leave chickens off your plate altogether. It has never been easier or more delicious to put our values of family and love into action through our food choices. Visit for more.

Image: A turkey hen crippled under her own weight at Hybrid Turkeys
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  • Chicken
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