Like all birds, chickens are smart animals with complex and meaningful social relationships. In fact, their intelligence is so advanced that a recent study by the University of Bristol revealed that chickens can think, draw references, apply logic, and even plan ahead. They can perform basic arithmetic, anticipate the future, and navigate by using the position of the sun!
Sadly, chickens raised for food are denied the ability to perform many of their most natural behaviors and instead are severely overcrowded inside sheds or cages.
Egg-laying chickens are perhaps the most abused of all farmed animals. Males born in this industry are killed on their first day of life, since they don’t lay eggs, while females are forced to spend nearly their entire lives in barren wire “battery” cages that are so small, they can’t even spread their wings, let alone walk. Experts agree such intensive confinement causes immense suffering, and it’s been banned in other countries. Yet barren battery cages remain standard practice in the US egg industry.
Chickens who are raised for their meat have been genetically selected in a different way than those raised for eggs. Referred to in the industry as “broilers,” these birds are crammed inside massive warehouses where they’re forced to stand, eat, and sleep in their own waste. Bred and drugged for “rapid growth” that’s abnormal and unnatural for their age, they often suffer from various ailments and painful deformities. Less than two months old, these birds are still babies when they’re packed on trucks and shipped to slaughter.