30 December 2014

Video of a "cage-free" chicken factory farm

...Craig Watts, 48, a North Carolina farmer who says he raises about 720,000 chickens each year for Perdue... Watts opened his four chicken barns to show how a Perdue chicken lives.

Most shocking is that the bellies of nearly all the chickens have lost their feathers and are raw, angry, red flesh. The entire underside of almost every chicken is a huge, continuous bedsore...

[A spokesman for Perdue] suggested that the operator was probably mismanaging the chicken house. That doesn’t go over well with Watts, whose family has owned the farm since the 1700s and says he has been raising chickens for Perdue since 1992, meticulously following its requirements...

The claim about the chickens being raised “cage free” is misleading because birds raised for meat are not in cages. It’s egg-laying chickens that are caged, not the ones we eat. So “cage free” is meaningful for eggs but not for chicken meat. Moreover, Perdue’s chickens are crammed so tightly in barns that they might as well be in cages. Each bird on the Watts farm gets just two-thirds of a square foot.
More at the New York Times and Salon.


  1. My brother in law had chickens he raised for meat that he'd let roam free and even wander off into the woods getting them to come back to the house with for some fresh corn feed and water, he lost only a couple to accidents and predators, they all ended up large tasty birds that while still certainly chicken tasted much better than I would have imagined. Factory farmed chickens really are just a shadow of what they could be, wish i could afford real free roaming chickens all the time.

  2. As an employee of one of Perdue's "competitors," Tyson Foods, LLC (I should say Perdue is our competitor, as we are the largest poultry producer, period), and having seen the chickens that come in to our plant, I have this to say.

    Factory-farmed chickens are raised in large poultry barns like this, yes. It's the most economically feasible way to raise a large number of chickens and to ensure that they get the optimal amount of feed and medication to be healthy birds, while being protected from predation. I have NEVER seen any of our chickens come into the plant on the live haul trucks with bald spots or "bedsores." There may be a few feathers missing here and there from rubbing on each other in the cages, or from molting/shedding, but that's it. The poultry barn method is the industry standard for raising large number of poultry (whether chicken or turkey). For bald spots and raw flesh to be visibly apparent on this farmer's birds, there is something wrong somewhere.

    1. I would bet that the reason for the breast lesions is the amount of manure left on the floor of the confinement buildings. The ammonia and alkalinity probably serve as irritants and counteract normal protective oils on the skin. Whether that manure accumulation is within Perdue guidelines I don't know.


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