These images document the entire chicken breeding cycle and were filmed by an undercover activist of Essere Animali, hired for a month by a large company in Piedmont that owns several farms and supplies AIA, the main Italian poultry producer.
Chickens have a short life that is full of suffering. Selected to ensure rapid fattening and fed on high-protein feed, their breast weight is such that when sent to the slaughterhouse at only six weeks of age they have difficulty walking, as well as heart and respiratory problems. They are raised in sheds that can hold up to 30,000 chickens, 20 per square metre, with no possibility of outdoor access.
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This is cruel to the animals and constitutes a risk to public health. In the opinion of the scientific community, these farms facilitate the spread of viruses that are dangerous to humans. In addition, as documented in our investigation, the widespread use of antibiotics – administered to all chickens for preventive purposes, with the aim of keeping as many animals alive as possible – is one of the leading causes of antibiotic resistance.
Workers also commit violent and abusive acts towards the chickens. Intensive livestock farms resemble dark zones in which even minimal animal protection laws are not respected. Newborn chicks are unloaded with violence to the point of injuring or killing them, sick animals are thrown among corpses while still alive or slaughtered after hours of agony and chickens are mowed down by the rotavator that turns the litter.
Although we have filed a complaint against those responsible, the problem does not end here. Over 500 million chickens are slaughtered in Italy every year. It is the most commonly consumed meat, often chosen as a substitute for red meat, but comes from intensive systems that can pose a risk to our society and cause serious suffering to animals.