Chickens Poultry farming

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More than 50 billion chickens are reared annually as a source of food, for both their meat and their eggs.

The vast majority of poultry are raised using intensive farming techniques. According to the Worldwatch Institute, 74 percent of the world's poultry meat, and 68 percent of eggs are produced this way. One alternative to intensive poultry farming is free range farming.

Friction between these two main methods has led to long term issues of ethical consumerism. Opponents of intensive farming argue that it harms the environment, creates human health risks and is inhumane. Advocates of intensive farming say that their highly efficient systems save land and food resources due to increased productivity, stating that the animals are looked after in state-of-the-art environmentally controlled facilities.

In part due to the conditions on intensive poultry farms and recent recalls of large quantities of eggs, there is a growing movement for small scale micro-flocks or 'backyard chickens'. This involves keeping small numbers of hens (usually no more than a dozen), in suburban or urban residential areas to control bugs, utilize chicken waste as fertilizer in small gardens, and of course for the high-quality eggs and meat that are produced.