Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Horrors of Broiler Chicken Factory Farms

If you get a moment, please - please - read Leah Graces' troubling article "Why We Haven't Seen Inside a Broiler Chicken Farm in a Decade" in Food Safety News. It is a must-read for those of us who are concerned about the fate of factory-farmed animals, especially chickens, who live in the worst conditions imaginable and are killed by the billions around the world each year. Early in the article, Graces quotes New Yorker writer Michael Spencer, who visited a broiler chicken factory farm back in 2003. At the time Spencer wrote:
I was almost knocked to the ground by the overpowering smell of feces and ammonia. My eyes burned and so did my lungs, and I could neither see nor breathe….There must have been thirty thousand chickens sitting silently on the floor in front of me. They didn’t move, didn’t cluck. They were almost like statues of chickens, living in nearly total darkness, and they would spend every minute of their six-week lives that way.
According to Graces, ever since Spencer's article, animal rights activists not been able to penetrate the dark and secretive world of broiler chicken factory farms. As Graces notes:
Most photos and video from factory farms come from undercover investigators who manage to get hired to work within the farm and then secretly gather images for an external organization.  This is next to impossible in a broiler factory farm.   There is hardly a ‘job’ involved in raising broilers in factory farms anymore. Often there are only one or two people, usually the farm owners, overseeing multiple houses, each house filled with tens of thousands of birds.
This article is essential reading because it sheds light on a world we so seldom see. Broiler hens live short lives full of despair, horror and anxiety. With states across America toughening Ag-Gag laws, and with laws such as the Orwellian-esque Animal Facilities Protection Act and the Federal Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act making it a felony (and act of terrorism) for a person to enter an "animal facility" (read: slaughterhouse, factory farm, fur farm, etc. etc.) under false pretenses, the Animal Murdering Machine has moved into high gear to prevent the public from seeing what happens inside of these ultra-violent charnel houses.

The way to combat such abuses is to increase our awareness, to bring these institutions out of the darkness, and to shed light on the horrors that exist within the walls. This is what Leah Graces has done, and she is to be commended.