We’re super puzzled by Perdue’s new ad slogan for its line of antibiotic-free chicken: “Eat like your ancestors.” We’re pretty sure our ancestors wouldn’t even recognize today’s frankenchickens, who grow three times faster than chickens did 60 years ago!
In other pig news, an investigative report published in the National Resource Defense Council’s On Earth magazine revealed that waste from farms is poisoning much of Iowa’s drinking water. Consumers and animal lovers are increasingly wondering whether the “efficiency” of industrial farming is worth the costs.
Recommended reading: The Meat Racket by Christopher Leonard, an exposé of the agriculture industry’s exploitation of farmers and chickens in the name of profit. Read reviews from The Washington Post and NPR.
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This week, the National Chicken Council released its long-awaited revised guidelines [PDF] for the chicken industry. These guidelines are critical since much of industry looks to the NCC’s recommendations to set their own practices.
Unfortunately, while the NCC’s revised recommendations contain some positive steps forward on some welfare issues, they miss the mark on others and, like the previous guidelines, completely neglect to address the most fundamental problem: selective breeding for excessive growth, a cruel practice that causes massive suffering and may pose increased food safety risks to consumers. Until that is addressed, there is a ceiling on how much welfare can be improved.
As our Truth About Chicken campaign describes, most of today’s chickens are bred to grow so big, so fast, that many can barely walk and, weakened, spend much of their lives lying in their own waste with open sores and wounds. This might produce more efficiency and profit for industry, but it makes life more miserable for the almost 9 billion birds raised for food each year.
The new guidelines also continue to allow for much too little space for birds, and neglect to provide for natural light, enough hours of darkness or indoor enrichments such as straw bales for birds to perch on.
The revised recommendations do contain improvements to encourage natural behavior in chickens, increase employee training, and add requirements for animal welfare documentation, oversight and auditing. These are important and laudable steps.
The ASPCA, through its Truth About Chicken campaign, will stay on the case and continue to engage the public and to urge industry to reform its practices. Please join us in making life better for chickens and better for us.
The ASPCA is going to the Super Bowl! At least, some of our favorite animals are: From today all the way through game day, a jumbo screen outside of MetLife Stadium in New Jersey will air two different ASPCA ads—one about puppy mills and pet store puppies, and the other about the welfare of chickens raised for meat.
Our research has revealed that most people would not buy a puppy if they knew she was born in a puppy mill—but it also showed that most people didn’t realize that almost all dogs offered for sale in pet shops are from puppy mills. We’ve been working to close this information gap with our No Pet Store Puppies campaign, and our 15-second Super Bowl spot is a wonderful opportunity to inform the public about the connection between puppy mills and retail pup sales.
More than 1 billion chicken wings will be eaten on Super Bowl Sunday—that many wings could form a line from CenturyLink Field, the Seattle Seahawks’ home stadium, all the way to MetLife Stadium…30 times over! Nearly all of these wings came from chickens raised in dirty, cramped quarters who were bred to grow so big, so fast they can hardly walk. But it doesn’t have to be that way: Chickens deserve better, and so do we. Check out the ad below, then share it on Facebook and Twitter. And if you haven’t already, make sure you stand up for healthier, more humanely raised chickens by signing our petition at TruthAboutChicken.org.
And they’re off! More than 72,000 signatures have been collected and delivered to the National Chicken Council urging the trade association to incorporate slower-growing birds and better living conditions into their chicken welfare guidelines.
“Our goal was to reach 50,000 signatures, and we’ve far surpassed that,” says Suzanne McMillan, the ASPCA’s Director of Farm Animal Welfare. “This sends a clear message that people care about the way chickens are treated, and they are standing with us to demand change.”
It’s no surprise that with all this support we’ve been ruffling a few feathers. Just last month the National Chicken Council and the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association created a website that looks just like our Truth About Chicken site—minus much of the truth!
“The chicken industry needs to take animal welfare as seriously as Americans do,” says McMillan. “We’re proud to have such dedicated supporters who understand that chickens deserve better!”
In just two months, more than 100,000 people have signed the ASPCA’s petition calling on the chicken industry to slow growth rates and provide better living conditions! Kudos to you. We are so happy to see the public embracing this issue.
But a funny thing happened in response to this effort. The National Chicken Council—the industry’s trade group—and the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association created a website too, and it sure looks familiar! The big difference between their site and our Truth About Chicken website is that they replaced our statements about chicken welfare with their own.
While we’re flattered that these groups took the time and energy to build a website that looks just like ours, we took the liberty of providing some edits. Click on the thumbnail below to take a closer look:
Most of the almost 9 billion chickens raised in this country each year for meat are suffering enormously due to unnaturally fast growth rates and inhumane, unsanitary living conditions. This is bad for chickens and bad for us. With oversight by government almost nonexistent, it’s up to us to push for better treatment of chickens.
That’s why today we delivered our recommendations[PDF] to the National Chicken Council. We’re urging them to incorporate slower growth and better living conditions into their chicken welfare guidelines, which are expected to be released before the end of the year and essentially set the standards for the industry. Please join us by asking the NCC to take this step. Show your support for the ASPCA’s recommendations by visiting The Truth About Chicken and telling the National Chicken Council to get serious about welfare!