It’s estimated that there are more than 50 billion chickens raised for meat in the world each year. That works out to about 136 million chickens killed each day worldwide.
The United States is the third most prolific country for chicken farming. There are about 9 billion chickens raised for slaughter in the USA each year. An additional 305 million hens are kept for commercial egg production.
Chickens are the most plentiful food source of any domesticated animal. There are more chickens raised and slaughtered than all other types of livestock combined. Along with turkeys, these birds represent 99 percent of the animals killed for meat in the USA if you’re counting by individuals slaughtered.
Chickens have become more plentiful in recent decades. In the last 60 years, chicken production in the United States has grown from 580 million in the 1950s to today’s number of 9 billion. Chickens bred for meat look different than those raised 60 years ago as well. Modern chickens are plumper and grow much faster in order to keep up with demand.
Factory Farming Conditions
The practice of factory farming chickens has come under intense scrutiny in recent years. The conditions that most commercial chicken farms maintain are quite different from what you might encounter at a backyard chicken farm.
Commercial meat chickens, or broilers, are bred to grow very quickly and put on a lot of weight during a brief period of time. This makes it possible to slaughter them for meat at six weeks of age. This rapid weight gain and growth predisposes them to heart problems; these birds often do not survive into old age even if they’re not slaughtered.
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Other problems with factory farmed chickens include the cramped conditions they’re kept in and unnatural living conditions. Interestingly, poultry are not classified as “animals” when raised as a commercial food product, which may be one reason that they can be farmed in such inhumane conditions.
Fortunately, things are changing for these birds as more people become aware of factory farming practices. With the rise in popularity of backyard chickens, a demand for humanely raised chickens and their eggs is rising. The future of factory farming may look very different for these birds if the trend continues the way it has in recent years.
If you’re reading this article and either have chickens or are thinking of raising them yourself, you’ll understand the importance of a quality chicken coop. This article on the complete chicken coop guide for beginners may be incredibly helpful to you.
"People talk about fools counting chickens before they hatch. That's nothing. We name them."
-- Orson Scott Card, Alvin Journeyman