The true cost of Britain’s addiction to factory-farmed chicken

Of the 1 billion chickens raised in the UK each year, 95% are factory farmed. Chicken is the country’s most popular meat and these massive sheds are why it’s so cheap, but what are the real costs, asks Alison Caffyn

Saturday 08 May 2021 21:30
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<p>The poultry industry has managed to keep a low profile while undergoing a massive expansion to supply all the supermarkets and fast food chains</p>

The poultry industry has managed to keep a low profile while undergoing a massive expansion to supply all the supermarkets and fast food chains

The first time I encountered an intensive “chicken shed” up close I was taken aback by just how massive it was – the huge industrial-looking metal clad building was well over 100 metres long by 25 metres wide. And there wasn’t just one, there were seven of these colossal sheds, the sun glinting off their roofs and adjacent clusters of tall silos. A constant hum emanated from them and periodically a strange clattering sound, possibly of grain being sprayed automatically from a silo into a shed.

There was a large, immaculately clean concrete yard and an almost uncanny lack of human activity. Finally, overwhelmingly, was the all-pervading smell. The malty, almost sweetish odour became increasingly unpleasant as I stood to take in the scene, making me feel slightly sick.

The distinctive stink followed me as I continued down the footpath. I began to develop a headache. I felt jumpy despite being on a public right of way – should I be this close to what I knew was an intensive poultry unit? Were there biosecurity risks?

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