The capacity of poultry to suffer and feel is given little consideration in the conventional egg and meat industry. While advertisements and product packaging regularly show "happy" chickens in small outdoor groups, the reality is very different: Most of the nearly 11 million chickens kept in Switzerland live in hangars with several thousand animals. It is permitted to keep up to 27,000 broiler chickens up until the 28th fattening day and 18'000 animals after the 43rd fattening day.
High-performance breeding and conditions under which broiler chickens are kept often lead to painful joint injuries, ulcers, and inflammations in their feet. According to the poultry industry, up to four percent of the animals die before they are slaughtered. In addition, laying hens often suffer from bone fractures due to calcium deficiency as well as inflammations of the oviduct.
Animal welfare law stipulates, among other things, that animal owners must regularly check on the condition of their animals. Sick or injured animals must be immediately housed, cared for and treated or killed in a manner compliant with animal welfare standards depending on the condition they are in. However, when housing several thousand animals, it is hardly possible to fulfill the needs of each and every one of them. This is despite the fact that chickens are equally subject to animal welfare legislation as are all other vertebrates. Their well-being and dignity are protected just as much as those of dogs, cats or cattle.