US broiler investigation 2012

Our investigation into US chicken farming in the state of Georgia

Warning: some scenes may be distressing

Compassion in World Farming’s Investigation Unit has been on assignment in Georgia, USA to get the inside track on the USA’s biggest factory farming operation – the chicken industry.

Supporting Compassion’s new USA office and its work with the Georgians for Pastured Poultry (GPP) campaign, we were tasked with conducting a special investigation that examined the hotspots of intensive production in the state, the implications for animal welfare and the wider impacts intensive chicken farming is having on the environment and human health.

We found evidence that chickens are suffering in ‘super sized’ sheds that are bigger than American football fields. We met with workers whose sole job is to clear out the dead. We also spoke with experts concerned about the size and scale of this operation in Georgia, which makes it easily the biggest producer of chickens in the USA.

For the urban Georgian, it’s not obvious that Georgia is home to this massive industry, but hit the road to the north of the state, gaze at the rolling landscape and you might just glimpse the top of a shed or a feed bin, which more often than not will be the start of a mega farm, with countless sheds, housing as many as 300,000 chickens.

As we discovered during our journey, this is an industry that likes to be out of sight and out of mind.

Eyewitness

Read an ‘in the field’ account from a Compassion investigator
  • Some of the farms are super-sized and each shed can contain as many as 30,000 broilers.

    Chicken sheds
  • Chicks just a few days old will grow super fast over the coming weeks.

    Chicks in the shed
  • Soon chickens are competing for space and welfare problems become more noticeable.

    Competing for space
  • Chickens put on weight fast through feed regimes that seek to get them to slaughter in around 7 weeks.

    Feeding
  • Many chickens display clear leg problems and can find walking very difficult because of their weight.

    Walking problems
  • In the last week of their short lives there's very little space left in the sheds. This is the half way point in the shed - behind me is the same amount again.

    Tightly packed
  • The next day. The catchers have been in over night and all that's left is the stench of litter and feathers.

    Feathers left
  • After weeks in a factory farm, their suffering continues, crammed in the cages on the back of trucks heading to the processor.

    On the truck


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