Imagine Living in a Dim Room for the Rest of Your Life

Much like humans, chickens primarily explore the world through their sense of sight. In fact, vision is a chicken’s strongest sense and some behaviors are influenced by the amount of light put off by a source (such as the sun). Just like how we tend to be alert during the day when there is more light from the sun, and sleepy at night when there is a lack thereof, chickens develop circadian rhythms that play a role in their everyday behaviors and psychological well-being.

LIGHT MANIPULATION: Day length influences many physiological processes for chickens, including growth rate, skeletal development, and behaviors such as foraging. Since most chickens raised for meat are forced to live indoors, the majority of birds are exposed to artificial lighting rather than natural daylight. So in order to stimulate feed intake (i.e. accelerate chicken growth) and maximize profits, modern chicken farms commonly practice something referred to as light manipulation.

CONSTANT DIMNESS: The conventional chicken industry keeps birds under near-continuous dim lighting. Day length is prolonged by allowing minimal periods of darkness, while light intensity is kept low, similar to a moonlit night. The guidelines provided by the National Chicken Council (NCC), a trade association for the chicken industry, require only four hours of darkness per 24 hour period for the majority of a chicken’s life, and the hours of darkness may be provided in increments of one, two, or four hours. Moreover, NCC defines darkness as 50 percent of the light level in the remaining hours, yet sets no minimum light intensity. In other words, there is no true light and no true dark for intensively raised chickens, just constant variations of dimness.  

INHUMANE CONDITIONS: Chickens raised for meat on factory farms are stripped of their ability to be a part of a family unit, they are denied their need for social interactions, natural behaviors and good nutrition, and they are forced to live a life cut short in cruel conditions until they’re inhumanely shackled and slaughtered. On top of this, these chickens are bred to become so abnormally large in a short period of time at a very young age that they have trouble standing and can even suffer broken bones and heart attacks. Light manipulation is just one more cruel practice performed on farms that shows how the industry values profit over animal welfare.

BAN THE ABUSE: Life is incredibly unfair for these smart, social animals. Animal Equality and other animal protection organizations are working hard to improve the lives of chickens and other farmed animals. We’re calling on companies such as McDonald’s to eliminate the worst abuses in their supply chains.

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National Chicken Council, op cit, section C5.3. https://www.nationalchickencouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/NCC-Welfare-Guidelines-Broilers.pdf