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Big Chicken [VIDEO]

chickens in cages

The Pew Environment Group released a report detailing the environmental impact of ‘Big Chicken‘.

“In just over 50 years, the broiler industry has been transformed from more than 1 million small farms spread across the country to a  limited number of massive factory-style operations concentrated in 15 states,” said Karen Steuer, who directs Pew’s efforts to reform industrial animal agriculture. “This growth has harmed the environment, particularly water, because management programs for chicken waste have not kept pace with output.”

The key findings include:

  • There are nearly 9 billion broiler chickens raised annually compared to get 580 million in the 1950s.
  • Over the same period, the number of producers has dropped from 1.6 million to just over 27,000 and concentrated in 15 states.
Since chicken production is so concentrated, it has wrecked havoc on the water ways of surround areas. The waste produced by the chickens, a mixture of manure and bedding, is typically disposed of in fields or cropland. If done improperly, it can wash into waterways with rain water. A particularly dire example is the Chesapeake Bay:
“The environmental consequences of the broiler business’s explosive growth are especially profound in the Chesapeake Bay, one of the nation’s most important, scenic and threatened bodies of water,” said Robert Martin, an expert on industrial animal agriculture reform at the Pew Environment Group. “Instead of working to limit the effects of all this chicken waste, the industry has fought to avoid responsibility for cleaning up one of our national treasures.”

The chicken producers and consumers will have to take responsibility to help solve the problem. The biggest problem seems to in the concentration of animals. While this may be the most economical for the business, it is not good for the environment, so consumers may just have to cough up a bit more for their chickens.

Source: Pew Environment

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons by b3nscott

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