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New National Chicken Council Welfare Guidelines Fail to Make the Grade

Friday, February 14, 2014 - 3:30pm
Broiler chicken and healthy chicken

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.

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Screw you NCC. Make some change.


For God sake, don't eat chicken! If people refuse to eat it, then these people may get it, eventually.

Janice C.

It does not look like they fair any better in 2014 then they did in 2010. None of the ASPCA's recommendations look that difficult to achieve. I think any living thing needs to be treated with kindness. There is strength in numbers. We need to back the ASPCA so the right thing can be done.


Can't stand seeing chickens shipped in crates stuffed with them going south on I-85, feathers flying out on the road, and then, most of the time, sitting in traffic breathing in all the fumes of traffic!

Mark L.

Hello readers and ASPCA staff,
It's nice to see a few people care enough about inhumane treatment of animals raised for food, but I argue that specific actions need to be offered and executed. Want human treatment of chickens? Purchase from local farms/ranches that raise chickens out on open grass, run around, eat seeds and bugs and proper feed as they should. And yes, that means paying more per pound than you're used to. THAT is what's required to make change. With your WALLET. Once enough people make the switch, the industry will have NO CHOICE but to LISTEN!!! Yaaaay for consumers and the animals we like to eat!