Information from Animal Liberation's 2011 Investigation

Last updated 6 August 2020

Two types of drugs were found in the chicken feed. Nicarbazin was found in Inghams in Queensland and Baiada in South Australia when the chickens were 5 weeks of age. We also found salinomycin at a Cordina farm in New South Wales in feed for chickens of 3 weeks of age. Both of these drugs are antibiotic type drugs and are used to stop the occurrence of coccidiosis. However it's important to remember that these chickens haven't been diagnosed with coccidiosis, this is routinely used as a preventative measure. Animal husbandry practices such as tight confinement, lack of fresh air, the accumulation of faeces and the insect infestations that then come to feed on the waste increases the likelihood of wide spread coccidial infection. The use of these drugs to control illnesses relating to husbandry is an indication of the problems within intensive farming systems such as this.

Three broiler chickens were rescued from a Cordina factory production site. They were monitored weekly and their progress was compared to the chickens remaining in the shed. At slaughter age the chicks who were in the shed weighed almost twice the weight of the chicks that were rescued. The chickens who would be slaughtered weighed around 3kgs and the chickens who were rescued weighed roughly 1.8kgs. This suggests that selective breeding is not the only cause of rapid growth.

In many ways this could be considered aggravated cruelty to animals- chickens are genetically bred to grow very large very quickly, they're kept in a highly stressful environment living in their own excrement for weeks in tight confinement, unable to exercise, unable to perch, many struggle even to stand. Many of the chickens are clearly crippled at a very young age.

Animal Liberation was supplied with footage from numerous major broiler operations across the country revealing gross mistreatment of broiler chickens. The bodies of these birds are supplied to supermarkets and fast food outlets across Australia.

The footage depicts conditions and practices found at Inghams in QLD, Baiada Poultry in SA, Inghams, Cordina and Red Lea Farms in NSW and Turi Foods in VIC. These companies represent the largest operators in the meat chicken industry and are not rogue operators.

Serious welfare concerns

The footage obtained from these operations includes images of chickens rendered lame due to drug use, broken bones, open wounds, and severe overcrowding in sheds. Animal Liberation has footage from day-old chicks to broilers ready for slaughter. This footage reveals the lifelong suffering of these animals.

Food samples (pelletized grain feed) from these operations were tested at independent laboratories. Several samples tested positive for Nicarbazin and Salinomycin. These drugs have the effect of accelerating the growth rate of the birds and preventing them from getting diseases due to living in litter with a concentrated build-up of faeces.

Animal Liberation has demonstrated the dramatic weight differences between broilers and rescued chickens. The footage shows crippling caused by chickens' bodies growing faster than their natural development. The weight of their bloated breasts and thighs are too much for their skeletal frames.

A veterinarian inspection of the rescued birds found severe trauma and breakages as well as an inability for them to move or stand naturally due to their rapid growth. The avian veterinarian was interviewed on film while treating the rescued broiler chickens and outlined the major health issues directly caused by intensive husbandry practices common across the three largest supplying companies in Australia.

This Animal Liberation exposé of the cruel broiler chicken industry uncovers new footage documenting chickens' life from day-old to slaughter and demonstrates the accumulative decline of chickens. The use of antibiotic-type drugs, extensive artificial lighting, controlled feeding and breeding programs all contribute to the suffering documented.

This titan of animal abuse is systemic, as can be seen by recent footage obtained from the three major chicken meat companies in Australia.

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