Chicken Scratch is an ASPCA Blog feature that highlights interesting news about farm animals and farm animal welfare.
“They’re not happy. And they’re definitely not healthy.” These are the words of one fed-up contract farmer who allowed cameras into his barn to reveal exactly how factory-farmed chickens live. Watch the video and be sure to sign our petition calling on the chicken industry to improve their standards.
During the holidays it can be difficult to make it out of stores alive, never mind navigating the confusing labels around farm animals’ welfare. If you eat meat, eggs or dairy, look for certifications that require better treatment and independent farm audits, specifically Certified Humane, Animal Welfare Approved and GAP (Levels 2+ for turkeys and 3+ for chickens). Unfortunately, common terms like “humane,” “hormone-free,” and “natural” can be meaningless when it comes to animals’ welfare. Take our label guide with you so you’re armed with facts.
2. Beware of Cheap Meat
Holidays can be expensive, so it’s especially tempting to go for money-saving promotions at the supermarket. But both consumers and animals can pay a steep price for cheap meat, eggs and dairy—in the form of poor animal welfare, poor quality and potential human health risks. Animal products often cost less because companies cut corners with welfare, but all things considered, choosing higher-welfare animal products is a much better deal.
3. Go to the Source
Whether you’re a city mouse or a country mouse, there’s bound to be a farmer’s market in your vicinity. Use this search engine to locate one. There you can often talk directly to people who work on or for the farms to learn how they raise animals. Start by asking about the farm’s policies on cages, debeaking, feedlots and antibiotics. Farmers tend to appreciate an informed consumer, so don’t be shy.
4. Plant Power
Try adding more vegetables to your holiday meal. Veggies are super healthy, look beautiful, and tons of recipes exist to make them taste delicious. You might also try some of the ever-more-available and tasty plant-based alternatives for meat, egg and dairy products. Testing out plant-based versions of old favorites or bringing in new veggie-based dishes is an exciting opportunity to develop new family traditions. Let us know your favorites in the comments section!
5. Ask and Receive
Above all, don’t forget that you have the power to demand more humanely raised products in your stores. This holiday season and going forward, you can impact which brands your grocery store carries. Start by demanding more humanely raised chicken in your stores with our supermarket request letter.
How does the use of antibiotics on farm animals affect humans? And does the use of these drugs contribute to the growing crisis of antibiotic resistance in people? These questions and more are answered in Frontline’s new documentary, The Trouble with Antibiotics.