Chickens are the most populous bird on the planet. There are 23 billion of them at any given time – that’s ten times more than any other bird. People eat 65 billion chickens every year. It’s by far the fastest growing meat product but pound for pound the price of chicken has fallen sharply. How has this happened?









  • astonishing – extremely surprising or impressive; amazing
  • forefront – the leading or most important position or place
  • preordained – (of an outcome or course of action) decided or determined beforehand; predestined
  • barnyard – the area of open ground around a barn; a farmyard
  • vulnerable – exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally
  • plentiful – existing in or yielding great quantities; abundant



Ask and answer the questions below in pairs or with your teacher.

  • Do you eat meat? Why or why not?
  • If you do, what is your favorite kind of meat or the one you eat the most often?
  • Where do chickens come from?
  • Why do you think chicken is the cheapest meat?
  • What do you think “free range” means?
  • What is a “broiler”?
  • How do you think modern farming techniques have changed the produce we consume?
  • What is your opinion about GMO?

Practice Makes Perfect

ACTIVE vs. PASSIVE: Fill in the blanks with the correct form of the verb in brackets. Go to The Economist to find out more.

Chickens 1.________ (be) first domesticated over 8,000 years ago but it wasn’t until the 1940s that major efforts were made to create a super breed. The chicken of tomorrow competition in America would change chickens forever.

Today the lifecycle of broilers, chickens that 2.________ (breed) purely for their meat, is entirely preordained. They grow faster and bigger than ever before and they can only live supported by human technology. Chickens have changed so quickly they are now four times the size they were in the 1950s.

Keeping chickens in battery cages 3.________ (ban) in the EU in 2012 but some people want to create better lives for broiler chickens. Free-range birds have more access to open air runs, while organic chickens are typically free from antibiotics, hormones and other synthetic chemicals. Organic chickens get to live the longest – 81 days compared to intensively reared birds which live between 35 and 40 days. Free-range chickens get the most access to open air runs but when it comes to living space, organic and free-range fair far better than intensively reared birds where as many as 17 adult birds live in a single square metre.

Organic farming might offer animals a greater quality of life but consumers 4.________ (drive) largely by cost and in an average UK supermarket, an intensively reared chicken 5.________ (cost) several times less than its free-range or organic cousins.


1. were  2. are bred  3. was banned  4. are driven  5. costs


Explore it more to create your own teaching-learning experience!