A Meat and Dairy Article from All-Creatures.org

Life of a Chicken

From Supuni Abeygunasekara
Facebook posting, July 2023

I know Iím Ďjustí a chicken, and I understand the life of a chicken like me might not interest anyone. But please remember me and share my story with others. And please choose compassion. Leave me and others like me off your plate.

dead Chickens

I was born in a hatchery, where eggs are hatched artificially and in large numbers.

If we were allowed to reach reproductive age, chickens like me wouldnít be able to mate naturally because weíve been bred to grow to such a large size.

I wonít be able to see my mother or receive care from her when I need it.

When Iím only a day old, Iím grabbed by careless hands that spray my feathers with a pink spray. The spray is a vaccine and the first of many drugs Iíll receive in the coming weeks.

Next, Iím thrown onto a conveyor belt. Some newborn chickens have fallen off the conveyor belt and arenít picked back up. I watch them from where I am, and some are crushed by the people who work here. Iím so afraid the same thing will happen to me.

Instead, Iím placed onto a truck that will take me and many other chicks to a shed where Iíll live for the rest of my short life.

The truck is noisy, and Iím scared.

Thankfully, I arrive in one piece at the shed, and, for a moment, I can count myself lucky for that.

Itís a really crowded place, and itís so noisy. I still donít know that Iíll never see the sunlight.

I keep looking for maternal warmth, but I canít find it.

There are thousands of chicks with me, but very few people are here.

There are bright artificial lights that are rarely turned off.

I would like to rest my eyes and sleep for more than a few minutes, but itís impossible with this light and the sound of chirps from the chicks around me. Is it normal to always feel so tired?

Even the breeze I feel against my face isnít natural. Giant fans are ventilating the room, but the air remains barely breathable.

Will I live here forever?

There isnít a single blade of grass under my feet. Instead, there is all the excrement produced by my roommates and me. Nobody comes to clean the floor.

Some of my roommates are struggling to breathe due to the ammonia and have started to lose their feathers.

Will that happen to me too?

Week 2 (1 pound)

I feel weaker and weaker. Iím being pressed into a smaller space, the air has become even more unbreathable, and the light gives me the feeling that I havenít slept properly.

But thatís not all. I feel heavier, and Iím struggling to move.

I feel like Iíve suddenly gained an unnatural amount of weight. How did my body grow so fast?

While Iím confined in this awful place, I dream of everything I donít have. I dream of my mom, a free space to scratch, clean and dry ground to take my sand baths, and a place to myself to perch outdoors.

I look around at my roommates, and many of them are injured. Some have burns on their skin caused by the urine-soaked ground. Others seem resigned to not moving anymore and just stare into space.
It hurts me so much to see them suffer like this. But Iím completely helpless and fear that it wonít be long before Iím in the same condition.

Week 3 (1.7 to 1.9 pounds)

Each day as I get heavier, I get closer and closer to my end.

I have already accumulated so much weight that Iím finding it difficult to get off the ground. I can hardly get water and food. My legs donít feel normal. Every time I want to drink or eat, it takes so much energy just to get off the floor.

The supply of water and food is entirely automated and for some of the other chicks, this is the cause of their death.

The troughs and feeders are placed at a height that some chicks canít reach. Theyíre deliberately deprived of water and food because theyíre considered too small to reach the necessary weight to be sold for meat.

My feet also begin to bend under the weight of my body.

Some of my roommates get so sick that they canít even survive long enough to be slaughtered. This morning, I counted dozens of dead bodies.

Their hearts suddenly stop causing them to collapse and never get up again.

I just saw one of my friends die like this. I approached him to give him a little affection and warmth, but it didnít help.

Weíre in pain, but we arenít receiving any veterinary care. Iíve heard that itís too expensive and that our lives are worth too little.

Week 4 (2.8 to 3.1 pounds)

Many people think Iím an unintelligent animal, but thatís not true.

One of the things that I do exceptionally well is remember. I clearly remember what I was like when I came out of the hatchery just five weeks ago, and I can feel that Iím much bigger now.

My body is enormous, and I can barely hold it up anymore.

I see my body reflected in that of my roommates. Theyíre incredibly large. They look like adult chickens, but theyíre still chicks struggling in their first month of lifeójust like me.
I donít feel very well.

Iíve been fed so many drugs since Iíve been here.

Day after day, my breathing becomes more and more labored. I find it hard to move, and my skeleton can no longer bear all this weight.

I often find myself unable to keep my balance, and when I fall on my back, itís hard to get up.
If that wasnít enough, the shed is getting hotter, smellier, and more crowded as we grow. So now thereís hardly any room to move.

By now, Iíve lost all hope of being able to see what the world is like outside. I donít think Iíll ever leave this shed.

A few days ago, I looked around and thought about my situation.

I thought that the biggest problem I would face here was the harsh environment. I imagined that I would feel better if I could get outside the shed. I could warm myself in the sunlight, peck in a soft meadow, and be caressed by the wind.

But now, I realize that the real prison isnít the shed Iím trapped inóitís my own body.

My chest has swollen enormously, and I find it challenging to balance. I spend most of my time frantically flapping and trying to get up.

Iím so exhausted that even just breathing is tiring.

With a body like this, itís impossible to survive.

Many of my roommates have fallen to the ground and never got up again.

With the extra weight Iíve gained, it wonít be long until Iím slaughtered for human consumption.

Final Week (5.1 to 6 pounds or more)

I know that my short journey hasnít been an exciting adventure. But itís important for me and the others trapped here to know that someone outside the shed knows the truth.

This life and this body cause me so much pain.

Whatís even more unfair is that I survived all this hardship for nothing. Iíve endured all this suffering just to end up on someoneís plate.

The last phase of my life is the most terrifying. A huge machine arrives at the shed and grabs us roughly by our fragile wings or legs. It captures us and locks us into tiny cages. From there, weíre crammed into huge trucks and face a long journey without food and water.

They take us to a place where they pull us out of the cages to hang us painfully upside down. Weíre panicking now.

I wonít dwell on how painful it is to be hung by my fragile feet and how difficult it is to breathe upside down, but Iím sure you can imagine.

They tried to stun me in a bath of electrified water. I felt excruciating pain and indescribable fear. I think they wanted to knock me out, but I pulled my head away from the water at the last minute, so they didnít quite succeed. I just feel a fogginess that prevents me from thinking clearly.

Iím very confused right now, and I feel my time is approaching.

I know Iím Ďjustí a chicken, and I understand the life of a chicken like me might not interest anyone.

But please remember me and share my story with others. And please choose compassion. Leave me and others like me off your plate.


  • The Humane League
  • Animal Equality

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