New Zealand raises over 120 million chickens for meat every year who have been selectively bred for rapid growth. They’re still babies when they’re slaughtered at six weeks of age. The combination of rapid growth and dirty, overcrowded farming conditions puts these birds at risk of suffering from debilitating and painful health problems.
SAFE Campaigns Manager Jessica Chambers said the Government must intervene.
“This is as bad as it gets for farmed animals,” said Chambers. “Chicken farming practices are inconsistent with the Animal Welfare Act and the Government has to do something about it. It’s simply wrong to put these animals at such high risk of pain and suffering during their short lives.”
In 2011, the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) raised concerns that chicken farming practices risked creating birds that spent part of their short lives in pain. A report published last week by the New Zealand Animal Law Association echoed these concerns.
“Not only are these farming practices a risk to animals, but they’re also a risk to human health.”
Intensive farming practices create the conditions for bacteria and viruses to spread from animals to humans. So far over two million birds have been culled worldwide on intensive poultry farms to control zoonotic diseases like avian influenza A (H5N8), also known as ‘bird flu.’ In New Zealand, Campylobacter, a bacterial disease primarily spread from poultry farms, is considered the largest food safety problem in the country.
Chambers said that SAFE has launched it’s ‘Meet Chickens’ campaign to raise awareness of the appalling conditions over 120 million chickens bred for their meat are subjected to.
“The Government must act to protect these animals from suffering and protect New Zealanders from preventable zoonotic disease outbreaks.”