Next time you pop some chicken in your trolley, it’s worth considering the kind of life it’s had. A chicken raised in higher welfare conditions means a better life for them – and safer, healthier food for you and your family.
Good news! You can help make life better for billions of chickens
The problems – and how to solve them
Many shoppers don’t realise the true cost of cut-price chicken – for animals and for people.
Too many birds, not enough room
Meat chickens are the most farmed land animal in the world – 7 billion are farmed in Europe every year – with 90% crammed into cruel barren sheds on factory farms.
The issue: crammed together
Factory-farmed chickens are packed into overcrowded sheds with little room to move
They dislike being crammed together and will compress their feathers to avoid touching one another.
The solution: room to breathe
When chickens are given more space, they can do what comes naturally: pecking, scratching, running, wing-flapping and perching.
In the best systems, they have separate places to rest, feed, drink and play – and can go outside for fresh air and sunlight.
Chickens have feelings too, just like any other living creature
Chickens can feel sensations and emotions just like us, such as pain, pleasure or fear, but regularly suffer the harsh conditions on factory farms.
The issue: no life worth living
Factory farmed chickens are kept in barren sheds often with no natural light and only litter on the floor.
Dimmed electric lighting and a lack of stimulating materials mean they spend most of their time inactive and bored. This poor lighting is kept on 18 hours a day, depriving them of the proper rest they need.
The solution: a more natural environment
A chicken’s life is transformed when they have access to natural light, perches and materials to peck at and use for dust baths.
Being able to go outside but have the shelter they need is also important to them. A chicken that can exhibit its natural behaviours is far happier.
We make them grow too big, too fast
Chickens have become trapped in oversized bodies. This has serious consequences:
Chickens are healthier, happier and more active when they are bred to grow more slowly and have the space and stimulation they need to behave like chickens.
The issue: trapped in oversized bodies
- Exhausted, they struggle to walk and often become lame
- Many develop heart conditions making them even more inactive and prone to metabolic problems.
- Their immune system is weakened, affecting the health of their gut.
- High body weight causes their muscles to degenerate – which also reduces the quality of the meat
The solution: a natural, healthy size
Choosing slower growing breeds means:
- Chickens have more natural proportions and are able to walk more easily.
- They have stronger hearts, healthier digestive systems and better resistance to disease.
- Their muscles are strong and healthy too, which provides good quality meat.
Bad for them, bad for us
We are facing a choice – what kind of chickens do we want in the future?
Meat chickens are bred to grow so fast they’re ready for market as early as 33 days old. This is exhausting for them and leads to serious health problems that prompts the routine overuse of antibiotics.
It isn’t just chickens who suffer from factory farming. Selective breeding to create oversized animals, and their appalling living conditions, create health hazards for us too.
The issue: it’s unhealthy (for chickens and for us)
Antibiotics are routinely overused to help chickens survive a poor welfare system – when they should only be given to sick animals
We are at risk of food poisoning from bacteria that flourish in factory farm conditions.
The nutritional quality of intensively farmed chicken meat is poorer.
The solution: a natural, healthy size
For them: Making sure chickens don’t grow too fast and have better living conditions dramatically reduces the need for antibiotics. As a result fewer chickens are at risk of becoming infected with harmful bacteria.
For us: Buy higher welfare chicken – the quality of the meat will be better and you can be sure you are giving your family healthier food to eat.