Broiler chickens


The catching and transport of birds prior to slaughter can cause considerable pain and distress. Each catcher will hold several birds upside down by their legs and cram them into crates which are then loaded onto lorries. Dislocated hips, broken wings and legs, and bruising are common occurrences. The process of catching, loading, transporting and unloading causes serious injury and even death to a significant number of broilers. The amount may be as high as 18 to 35 million across the EU (2).  Long distance transport to slaughter can be common practice and the birds may suffer from extremes of temperature, stress, suffocation and shock.  


Broiler chickens are slaughtered at just 6-7 weeks of age (a chicken's natural lifespan is around 7 years). 873 million broiler chickens were slaughtered in the UK in 2012 (855 million in 2011) (1).

On reaching the slaughterhouse, broiler chickens are removed from their crates and hung upside down shackled by their feet to a moving line whilst still fully conscious. Their heads and neck are dragged through an electrically charged water bath designed to stun the birds, rendering them unconscious. The moving line takes the birds to an automatic neck cutter. Birds are bled before entering a scalding tank to make the plucking easier.

Broilers often experience pain and struggle while hung in shackles, and they may suffer during the slaughter process. It is estimated that over 50million broilers across the EU may be slaughtered while fully conscious (2). It is essential that a sufficient stunning current is used and that both carotid arteries (the major blood supplies to the brain) are cut to reduce the risk of birds regaining consciousness during bleed-out and subsequently entering the scalding tank whilst still alive.  

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The Vegetarian Society of the United Kingdom Limited, Parkdale, Dunham Road, Altrincham WA14 4QG
Registered Charity No. 259358, Registered Company No. 959115 (England and Wales)

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