Poultry Industry

Another hidden agricultural industry that we aim to highlight through a new campaign.

Factsheet: The Poultry Industry in Ireland


1. Amount of poultry (broiler and egg) farms in Ireland.

There are approximately 450 broiler farms in Ireland that supply birds to three main poultry processing farms. Additionally, there are around 240 egg farms in the country.

2. Amount of chickens killed every year.

Approximately 2 million chickens were killed each week in Ireland in 2020, with the number killed annually being over 100 million. 

3. Legislation and regulations on the keeping of poultry for meat / egg production.

All poultry owners must register with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Due to the Avian Influenza outbreak in Ireland in 2020, the Avian Influenza (Biosecurity measures) Regulations were introduced, which mandate that all poultry farms need to comply with biosecurity measures and house their chickens, with farms with over 500 chickens needing to adhere to additional restrictions.

All chicken owners must also adhere to the 1990 Care and Welfare of Poultry (Laying Hens) Regulations which set out guidelines for the everyday care of laying hens, including the buildings in which they are housed, the minimum cage area, and the type of feed given to them.

Additionally, the European Union has its own regulations that Irish farms must follow, which are outlined in the “Commission Regulation (EC) No 617/2008 of 27 June 2008 laying down detailed rules for implementing Regulation (EC) No 1234/2007 as regards marketing standards for eggs for hatching and farmyard poultry chicks”.








4. Legislation and regulations on the slaughtering of poultry.

The Regulation (EC) No 853/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council lays down specific hygiene rules for poultry slaughterhouses with a number of requirements, which they state include “not causing unnecessary distress to the chicken, having appropriate holding facilities for the birds to be inspected prior to slaughter, and avoiding cross-contamination”. 

Additionally, Regulation (EC) No 854/2004 states that there should be at least one official veterinarian present in slaughterhouses to ensure that ante-mortem and post-mortem inspection of the chickens is carried out properly, although this requirement can be waived for certain slaughterhouses based on a risk analysis by the relevant authority. 

5. Licensing / operation requirements for poultry farms.

All poultry hatcheries in Ireland must be licensed through approval by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. The “guidelines” for hatcheries to be approved include over 50 requirements, with some of these being: separating poultry from all other species, separating the hatchery from the breeding site, ensuring the building itself meets the requirements, and making sure that there is a hygiene programme in place.

Also, broiler farms that have more than 40,000 chickens must apply for Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control licensing from the Environmental Protection Agency to cover the environmental impact of the emissions from the facility.






6. The amount of chicken meat / eggs exported.

In 2020, Ireland exported around €330 million worth of poultry, with the majority of this going to the United Kingdom. There were no significant egg exports, as Ireland is not 100% self-sufficient in egg production.

7. The amount of chicken meat / eggs imported.

In 2020, Ireland imported $274 million worth of poultry flesh.

In the same year, Ireland imported $15.6 million worth of eggs.










8. Grants / funding given to poultry farmers.

The Pig and Poultry Investment Scheme gives Irish farmers access to a €17 million financial aid fund so that they can upgrade their equipment to meet the current standards of animal welfare. Only those who generate at least 20 production units are eligible, and applicants must meet the requirements of the scheme, which include training, age, tax clearance, and planning permission. The amount of grant given to successful applicants is 40% of the expenses, up to a maximum of €80,000.   

9. Studies on the impact of poultry farming on chickens (e.g. cruelty, stress, lack of natural environment).

The impact of poultry farming on chickens is extremely damaging and harmful, even in farms that claim to support animal “welfare”. 

  • Egg-laying hens have their beaks – their main sensory organ – painfully clipped when they are just a day old. The life span of industrial egg-laying hens is only 1.4 years, compared to 4 years for non-industrial hens, due to an artificially sped up egg-laying rate. This causes the hens to become stressed which the industry claims “necessitates” the beak clipping to avoid them pecking each other.
  • Caged egg-laying hens are kept in cages that are the size of an A4 sheet of paper, with a tiny bit of additional shared room for them to nest. This leads to egg-laying hens often breaking their bones due to collisions in such tight spaces. 
  • Broiler chickens are kept in an artificially lit shed with 20,000-30,000 other birds, and the shed is not cleaned until the end of the life cycle of the birds, meaning that they are squatting in their own faeces for most of their life. This also causes burns and rashes on their legs.
  • Male chicks in the egg-laying industry are killed, either by being gassed or shredded alive in a high-speed grinder. While Ireland mostly imports its chicks for egg-laying at one day old rather than hatching them, female chicks are imported from facilities that kill all their male chicks at birth.
  • Broiler hens are forced to grow to unnaturally large sizes at rapid rates, causing their organs and legs to malfunction, with many suffering heart attacks. Broilers kept for breeding are starved to prevent them from becoming too large to mate.






So, what are we doing about it?


Our goal is to launch a nationwide campaign to ban poultry farming, which will include protests, leaflet drops and outreach events.


Education campaigns are a huge priority. If you would like to help spread awareness on this important issue, let us know and we will send you a leaflet pack.


If poultry farming was illegal, it would save millions of lives every year. Contact your local TD and council, and ask them to ban on poultry farming in Ireland! Not sure what to say? Email us for advice!

We have various campaigns running at any one time. Please click to learn about more issues!

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Please feel free to contact us if you want to ask us any questions, report something or get involved.


Please feel free to contact us if you want to ask us any questions, report something or get involved.


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