Broiler Farm - a living machine

This one tends to be the most controversial article on this site. Shouldn’t it be placed into a horror section instead of the charming section? Well, maybe. I don’t have an answer – I align myself into unpopular group of neutral people.

Besides, is there anything in a broiler farm that has to do with engineering? I think yes. Honestly.

The broiler farm is a machine. It produces broilers – chickens for meat. In this article I want to show you how a living organism can also be used as a machine part – changed and shaped as it pleases us. The broiler farm is only an example here – any other food-processing farm does the same.

There are unsettling things inside this article, so you may choose not to read any further.

Meat production

You are never afraid that you might die from hunger. This is one of major blesses of modern western societies and is made possible by things like a broiler farm. But only several hundreds years ago, the hunger was one of major killers and without intensive farming it would return in days. Believe me.

Fortunately, these days we have machines that produce food – our farms. The most fascinating fact about such a machine is that some of its parts are actually alive. We usually call them animals, but these are not just some animals. These animals are specifically designed and engineered to best suite the machine needs – just as you would expect from a machine part, anyway.

In a broiler farm it is everything about growth and gaining weight. Small chicks begin their lives in an incubator. They are vaccinated to prevent diseases because a disease may inhibit their growth. Then they are placed into a broiler farm together with thousands of others.

A young broiler can freely move around and eat and drink as much as it wants. There is always plenty of food and water available – more than it is needed. In addition light is also regulated to make them eat more.

Broilers gain their weight incredible fast. In just few weeks (5-6) they are ready for slaughter.

At the end of this period they already have 2-3 kilograms. There is not much space now for them to move around as their bodies spent almost all of it. The illumination is now re-adjusted (dimmer) to prevent them to fight mutually because this would slow down the weight gaining process. Broilers still eat readily and are gaining weight.

About four hours before slaughter, the food is removed from them. Although already at great weight, broilers at that moment are still very young birds, far from reproductive maturity. Well, at least this makes their meat very soft.

But the most important fraction of the weight-gaining tempo comes from the broiler itself. These birds are designed to eat and grow. An ordinary country chicken would never come close to it even it has access to all the food – the ordinary chicken simply cannot convert so much food into the body mass. Broilers, on the other hand, are really extreme beings.

If you continue to feed a broiler further it will continue to grow almost as fast. Soon thereafter, it will die because of its own body weight. Their bones and other organs could not stand it. In fact, even at the moment of slaughter many broilers already have broken legs because of theirs own weight. (Note that we designed them to gain muscle, not bone mass – they have very fragile bones).

In any case, a broiler cannot reach its reproductive maturity. Its destiny is to die sooner.

This is why I call them machine parts. They cannot live outside the machine. Neither the machine can do without them. They are still animals, but their purpose is, somehow, to be served as meat – they are no good for anything else.


Well, sure there must be a way to reproduce broilers. Yes, the reproduction happens at the other end side of the machine.

An array of hungry hens and a smaller array of even-hungrier roosters are used to produce fertilized eggs. I mean really, really hungry because this is the only way a broiler could reach reproductive maturity.

Reproductive birds are kept constantly hungry – from their earliest childhood. If you don’t give them enough food, it will arrest their growth rate as it would do to any other live being. However, this makes it possible for a broiler to reach its reproductive maturity.

Especially roosters are kept at a their living minimum. Hens must produce eggs so they are given a bit more food when in reproductive phase.

You can see that these birds are really hungry – they will eat anything you give to them no mater if it is edible or not. They also eat their own feathers. After all they are designed to eat.


According to my calculations, up until now I ate about 300 broilers. They were all very tasty.

Danijel Gorupec