There are 533 million chickens slaughtered only in Italy in 2021. A systemic change in production and consumption is needed.
In the Report (an important italian television program that is broadcast on RAI) exposé aired on 9th January, a number of questions are raised about the leading company in organic poultry production in Italy. Images received by LAV and broadcast in the report on Rai Tre depict a number of critical issues.
The investigation once again sheds light on some serious issues in the chicken farming system that is responsible for the production of billions of animals annually (FAOSTAT 2020), with 533 million chickens slaughtered only in Italy in 2021 (source Italian National Data Bank (BDN)).
About 98 percent of the chickens raised in Italy for their meat are of the broiler breed, which has been specifically selected and genetically modified over the years to grow to huge proportions in record time to produce the part of their bodies most in demand on the market. It is thus that, through genetic selection, broilers develop huge breasts within a matter of weeks of their lives, so much so that they are sent to slaughter at a very young age, at about 4 weeks of age.
The trait is selected that makes it possible for these birds to grow rapidly, to extremely over develop body parts, for instance their breasts: they have enormous breasts and do not have the upper body strength to be able to support themselves on their legs. This is only made possible by the unregulated genetic manipulation.
And notwithstanding their very brief existence, broiler chickens suffer from cardiorespiratory and musculoskeletal diseases as a result of their very deformed bodies outgrowing what their muscles and hearts can support. The agony of these animals is tangible, as evidenced once again in the images broadcast yesterday.
Continued Bennati referring to the animal husbandry system in general:
The fact that there is day to day occurrence of disease, and that is making the animals suffer, and to accept that this ailment is economically tolerable with respect to the system of production is to create a breeding farm that is sick. Inside these farming systems it is all but impossible to monitor due to the large number of animals and farms, but the illegality is entrenched in this very thing.
Chicken meat consumption in Italy is growing, in contrast to consumption of other meats, which is stable or declining. And to meet market demand, chickens are being forced to live a non-life, crammed into large sheds, often confined and obliged to the ground in their own feces as they are rendered unable to stand on their own feet. Factors, however, that are very often not recognized by consumers.
Inspections by veterinary services are essential, but they are not sufficiently frequent, they are often mutually agreed upon with the farms, and they are limited to inspections that are sometimes merely documentary in nature, without thorough inspections into the health of all the animals on the premises of the animal sheds used for breeding.
Moreover, the evidence too many times has shown the lack of interest in providing adequate and effective care and monitoring for such a large number of animals, where the commercial value of the individual does not justify interventions such as appropriate care and treatment, but instead often results in culling or even worse, death by abandonment after a prolonged period of agony merely for economic reasons, despite the fact that this is not legitimized by the law.
What we must reflect on, given that we have more than half a billion chickens being slaughtered in Italy, is how we can make sure that this violence, in a country like ours that has recognized animals in the Constitution, comes to an end, and that we don't just seek a penny of profit as the industrial poultry system does today.
This is an increasingly unsustainable production system: we must remember that it is precisely chickens, along with other poultry, that are affected by the avian flu that killed more than 14 million animals last winter, many of them slaughtered. Avian flu that has even now caused outbreaks across the country and has already crossed species lines several times in recent decades, infecting humans.
Unfortunately, critical issues are also often hidden behind farming methods, such as organic, which are supposed to provide better living conditions for animals and to which consumers are increasingly turning, given the increasing attention to the conditions of animals raised for food and the sustainability of production.
One solution, we at LAV have found: each of us can help put a definitive end to the suffering of chickens by choosing to immediately to keep the meat of these newborn animals off our plates, beyond an advertising narrative that guarantees natural and good products, only to find out later that there is very little that is natural about animals that are slaughtered when they are 4 weeks old with physical deformities.