Cute chicken chicks on ground in a factory farm

Brace yourself: the first day on Earth for chickens is terrifying.

They are among the most vulnerable of all farmed animals: baby chicks. And you won't believe what happens to them inside the walls of the world's 'mega hatcheries'.

Animals Australia

Animals Australia team

Last updated October 28, 2015

It wasn’t meant to be this way…

In nature, the first day of a chicken’s life is a pretty glorious affair. As doting mothers, hens will shield their babies under their wings to keep them warm and safe. Chicks will ‘imprint’ on mum almost immediately — keeping close and ‘cheeping’ constantly to keep her near.

It’s the same sound you will hear inside mega hatcheries that ‘produce’ chicks for the chicken meat industry. With one big exception: the cries of these babies will never be heard by their mums.

Actually, the contrast couldn’t be more unsettling.

Few people have ever seen inside these ‘industrial nurseries’. And understandably, it’s not something the chicken meat industry tends to advertise.

In a world-first undercover investigation, Anonymous for Animal Rights (Israel) has documented how the vast majority of factory-farmed animals — some 60 billion each year — enter this world. Chillingly, you too can now sense what it’s like to be born into a body that is treated literally like a production unit. Conveyor belts and all.

Fortunately for us, it’s just a video. But for those animals destined to become nuggets and chicken burgers, this is the inescapable reality.

And not just in Israel.

The Australian Chicken Meat Industry recommends that ‘unviable’ chicks be gassed or thrown into mincing machines — alive. This is a fate shared by roughly 3 million chicks born into the Australian chicken meat industry (and over 12 million male chicks born into the Australian egg industry) every year.

When you consider what horrors await their siblings in factory farms, one could argue that these are the ‘lucky’ ones…

This image contains content which some may find confronting

Broiler hatchery
Image credit: Farm Transparency Project / Animal Liberation

The sight of a frightened day-old chick, trembling with fear as she is thrown from conveyor belt to conveyor belt puts one thing very clearly into perspective … For all its ruthless efficiency, today’s meat industry has been unable to overcome the inconvenient fact that farmed animals are each living, breathing individuals with beating hearts.

The reality is, the shrink-wrapped chicken fillets that line our supermarket shelves are hiding a truth that would turn the stomach of most animal lovers. But there’s reason for optimism.

Today, more Australians than at any point in our history are choosing to cut back or eliminate meat from their meals. And thanks to animal-friendly food companies like Fry’s Family Foods, you can now have your ‘chicken’ burger, and eat it too.

This image contains content which some may find confronting

Hungry for more? We’ve got you covered.

Order your FREE Veg Starter Kit or head to for even more mouthwatering recipes and great tips on eating with kindness.

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