Yesterday morning we went to the garage (a.k.a. the temporary chicken coop) and discovered that one of the sweet and friendly Cornish Cross chickens had passed away in the night, at just 5 months of age. There were no signs of trauma or illness so we suspect she succumbed to a heart attack and crossed over peacefully. Why do we suspect this? Because she, and millions like her were bred to go from egg to slaughter in eight weeks. They are still babies, not even being fully feathered when they are trucked off to the slaughterhouse. No consideration was given to the health of the individual chicken or the quality of life for the Cornish Cross breed beyond the “slaughter date” upon it’s creation. The only objective was to create a chicken that would grow large quickly, so every 8 weeks the “farmer” would get paid. Their hearts cannot keep up with their massive frames if they live beyond their planned slaughter date, and they usually pass due to heart failure. Some even die before they reach the slaughterhouse. This cruelty is perpetrated 24/7/365 in every state in the nation because of consumer demand for “cheap chicken” like canned noodle soup, pot pies, nuggets, hot wings, and fast food sandwiches. When you see a truck like this rolling down the highway (left), please remember it is likely filled with eight week old babies. It may be the only time in their short lives they smell fresh air and see sunshine since they are raised in large barns, usually with poor ventilation and little to no natural daylight (right).
We rescued these Cornish Cross chicks on November 8th, 2014 when they were one week old. They had been ordered by a man and sent by mail as a prank to an ex-girlfriend in Washington DC. Our friends at Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary in Poolesville, Maryland rescued the 15 chicks, and asked us to give sanctuary to six of them. We were not quite ready for chickens here at PFS, but felt we were up for the challenge! We were delighted to take part in their liberation. They were adorable little yellow peeping fuzz balls! We had no idea what breed of chicken they were but did notice them growing rapidly and spending a lot of time resting on their tummies. We suspected they were a breed of chicken with a man made purpose of being used for their meat. Here they are pictured at one week old (left) and five weeks old (right). You can tell how quickly they grew in one month by their relative size compared to their food dispenser.
Chickens are one of the most exploited animals on earth. Their genetic makeup and traits are SO far away from their ancestors, they are scarcely the same animal anymore. Wild chickens lay one to two eggs per month and are lean and agile. Chickens bred for the sole purpose of exploitation at the hands of and to the benefit of humans will lay 20-30 eggs per month (for “egg laying” breeds). This can and usually does cause reproductive cancer, impacted oviducts, chronic and acute infections and much more. Chickens like the Cornish Cross (a “meat” breed), will grow to a massive weight rapidly, causing hearth failure and sudden death while they are still babies. So, you see, even chickens coming from exploitation to liberation at a sanctuary are not truly free. They are still enslaved by their defective bodies. Chickens are lovingly cared for and given every opportunity for happiness at sanctuaries around the world but will still suffer and die because of their carefully planned exploitation.
Some people will believe that “humanely raised” Chickens are the answer. Exploiting and killing them in a nicer way is not a solution.The solution is to reject the exploitation of all animals and to adopt a vegan lifestyle. As demand decreases for the exploitation, and demand rises for cruelty-free alternatives, more and more lives will be spared. There are many delicious vegan meat substitutes on the market, available in such places as Wal-Mart, Target, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s to help you make the transition. There may even be a few at your local grocery store, just ask! There are many meet-up groups for people who are seeking veganism. There are many Facebook groups full of supportive vegans. Please reach out if you’d like to help end their suffering. Volunteer at and/or donate to your local vegan animal sanctuary. Encourage your friends, family, and co-workers to consider the cruelty that goes on when making food, clothing, and entertainment choices. We can make a more compassionate world, together!