Health issues

Last updated 6 August 2020

With this rapid growth of broiler chickens comes a variety of different health complications. Splayed legs, difficulty walking and joint problems are all common conditions suffered by broiler birds. Birds commonly become too heavy to lift their own body weight, causing them to be unable to access food or water. At age 5 to 7 weeks chickens spend 76-86% of their time lying down due to lameness often suffering from foot, hock and breast burns from being in constant contact with soiled litter. 

Rapid growth causes skeletal and metabolic disorders causing suffering, pain and death. 90% of chickens have a detectable abnormal gait at the age they are slaughtered.

Due to the rapid growth of the birds many of them develop skeletal issues causing lameness. Each year in Australia roughly 165,401,790 chickens will suffer from skeletal issues and lameness impairing their ability to walk .

Rapid growth can also cause the tendon that runs along the back of the leg to rupture due to the excess weight placed on the tendons.

Overcrowding also ensures the birds can't exercise as there is so little room the birds aren't able to move around easily. Overcrowding also causes greater build-up of dust and ammonia reducing air quality which can cause respiratory disorders. Birds are often walking over the top of each other causing difficulty for chickens attempting to sleep.

Sudden death syndrome (flip-over)

Sudden death syndrome is a metabolic disorder that is common among flocks of broiler birds where they suddenly die despite otherwise appearing healthy. Birds commonly convulse as they are dying. The main contributor to this condition is the rapid growth of broilers. This occurs in 1-4% of chickens. Of the half a billion farmed in Australia each year, that's up to 22,053,572 chickens who will die of sudden death syndrome.


Pulmonary Hypertension (ascitis)

Pulmonary hypertension syndrome is another condition caused by the rapid growth of broiler chickens. Caused by accelerated growth where the juvenile heart and lungs can't transport enough oxygen to the overgrown body. This condition causes extreme swelling of the abdomen, respiratory issues, a reluctancy to move and a blueish tint to the skin, known as cyanosis.