She was one in 61 billion

by | Dec 12, 2015 | consumption, food

Some figures are so big they are difficult to conceptualise.  Sixty-one billion is such a number.

So let’s start with six…. 6.

Six is the number of weeks a chicken lives for before being slaughtered.

Be it the main dish at Ferran Adrià’s degustation table[1] or a McChicken burger, the breast on your plate is six weeks old.

It may take you a few seconds to process that. Six weeks from hatching to hatcheting.

But while you’re doing so, also contemplate that as there are 61 billion chickens slaughtered yearly[2] (and growing), we slaughter almost 2,000 chickens EVERY SECOND.

No wonder 61 billion is a difficult number to conceptualise.

Speaking of tight quarters, seeing as chickens take three weeks to hatch, they spend a third of their time, from conception to expiration, in an egg.

[1] To be fair to Ferran some free range farms allow their chooks to live to 8 or even 10 weeks, so his breasts may be a little older than 6 weeks.


Feature picture is ‘Take five’ by HerbertT available at under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0. Full terms at