Perdue Foods, the third-largest chicken producer in the country, announced that it has stopped using antibiotics in all of its chicken hatcheries. This shift reflects increasing consumer discomfort with the amount of antibiotics used to raise chickens. Food Safety News reports that “the company has used antibiotics for growth promotion since 2007 and continues to use antibiotics in some of its hatched birds,” so taking these steps to change is a big deal for Perdue. We’re glad some producers are listening and we encourage all consumers to demand better for chickens and for themselves with our supermarket request letter.
We have a soft spot for chickens: they’re feathery and friendly, curious and even cuddly. And did you know they experience REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, associated with dreaming? But nearly 9 billion birds in this country are not living a dream. They’re suffering on overcrowded, unsanitary factory farms, bred to grow in such rapid, unnatural ways that they often collapse and spend much of their lives lying in their own waste.
At the ASPCA, we’re fighting to change this—but we need your help.
The chicken-meat industry calls September National Chicken Month, so it’s the perfect time to use your voice and take a stand for more humanely raised, healthier chickens:
1. Check out our new video, “The Professor,” to learn what’s gone wrong in chicken farming and what can be done about it:
3. Spread the word. Let your friends and family know that September is National Chicken Month and there’s a lot they can do to help! Join us on Friday, September 12 at 3:00 P.M. (Eastern time) for a special Twitter chat using the hashtag #ChickenMonth. And be sure to spread the word on your social channels using the sample post below!
Chickens suffer on factory farms and they deserve better! Join @ASPCA and take action: truthaboutchicken.org #ChickenMonth
Thirty days and three powerful ways to help billions of animals. Cluck yeah!
Chicken Scratch is an ASPCA Blog feature that highlights interesting news about farm animals and farm animal welfare.
A new farm animal welfare policy has been put in place by Nestlé, one of the world’s largest food companies and the parent company of Purina pet food. The policy [PDF] prohibits veal crates, gestation crates, battery cages, certain physical alterations without pain relief, and pledges to focus on reviewing ”fast-growing practices” in poultry. The shift comes shortly after an undercover exposé by animal advocacy group Mercy for Animals revealed animal abuse at dairy farms supplying Nestlé. We’re optimistic that the company’s new commitment to improve the quality of life for animals in the food system will encourage other corporations to do the same.
Silicon Valley has long been a hub for high-tech innovators, but now it’s a group of forward-thinking foodies who are starting to shake up the Valley with innovative meat alternatives. A handful of local start-ups are “Rethinking Eating” and going as far as creating “meat” and “eggs” from plants or cultured animal tissue.
Wool you get a load of that?! A partnership between a non-profit farm and a New York state park preserve uses privately owned ewes to mow and maintain publicly managed land. The project will eventually add sheep to its roster of “employees,” if you will, who can “help control invasive species and improve soil health.” A similar project is also starting in New York City with three tiny lambs who will be delivered to the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Guest blog by ASPCA President & CEO Matt Bershadker
Yesterday, August 24, was the 48th anniversary of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), a groundbreaking law establishing minimum standards of treatment for animals… Well, some animals.
You see, while some animals used for research, as pets, or for exhibition, are considered worthy of minimal legal protection (and to be clear, the AWA protections leave lots of room for improvement), animals used for food, like farm animals, are explicitly left out. Other federal statutes, like the 28 Hour Law and the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, cover livestock transportation and slaughter, but both exclude birds, and there are no federal laws at all governing the conditions in which farm animals are raised.
The big question is: why?
Do the over 9 billion animals farmed in the United States each year require less protection? No. Should we allow them to endure extreme cruelty during their lives just because they’re destined for slaughter? Certainly not.
If anything, considering how many farm animals there are and the direct link between farm conditions and food safety, farm animals require more attention, and their conditions more scrutiny. As the products of agricultural corporations, farm animals are among the most exploited and abused animals in the world.
You don’t have to look very hard to find documented cases of cruelty against farm animals or on-going practices that fit the very definition of torture, such as battery cages for egg laying hens and gestation crates for sows. In late June of 2014, Compassion Over Killing released undercover video from a poultry farm in North Carolina that showed sick and injured chickens being dumped alive into pits of carcasses, where they suffocate or expire of hunger, thirst or exposure.
Instead of working to fix these abuses, the factory farming industry uses its influence to keep them secret by trying to pass “ag-gag” laws, which prevent video or photographic documentation of farm activities.
Ironically, this anniversary comes only a week before the start of National Chicken Month, an annual September promotional exercise by the National Chicken Council to promote chicken sales and to celebrate chicken consumption, which in effect also celebrates the cruel ways we treat those very chickens.
But imagine, for a moment, a very different “National Chicken Month,” one in which we ensure chickens are not abused, exploited, or tortured. A month in which we highlight farmers who treat chickens more like the animals they are, not like the products they become.
Some states are acting on their own to institute farm animal protections, and we hope that trend spreads throughout the country and on the federal level. But even before that happens, there are things we all can do to help.
We urge concerned consumers to ask their supermarkets and the companies that supply them to think about raising chickens that can stand up and be chickens, not be pumped with unnecessary antibiotics and bred to be so absurdly huge that they fall over in their own waste. And we encourage people to sign our pledge, urging more humane industry practices.
Whether it happens on the federal, state, community, or personal level, action must be taken to safeguard the welfare of all animals, no matter what purpose they serve.