March 18, 2016

Major Animal Welfare Certification Program Pledges Higher Welfare Standards That Will Benefit Millions of Chickens

Major Animal Welfare Certification Program Pledges Higher Welfare Standards That Will Benefit Millions of Chickens

Global Animal Partnership (GAP), a 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating and Verification Program used by Whole Foods, announced today that by 2024 all chicken farms under their program must raise slower-growing breeds. In addition, farms will need to meet standards for space and enrichment, including natural light and perches. The ASPCA joined other welfare groups in encouraging GAP to address these core welfare issues in their standards, and we applaud their landmark commitment to healthier genetics and better lives for the millions of chickens in their program.

Nearly 9 billion chickens are raised for meat every year, and almost all of them have been selectively bred to grow four times faster than they did just 60 years ago, with extremely high yields of breast meat. These genetic manipulations have had devastating effects on chickens’ welfare, including broken bones and widespread lameness as the birds’ legs cannot support their disproportionate bodies. Today’s chickens also typically have less than a square foot of floor space each, and live in dimly lit warehouses devoid of natural light or enrichment.

Through this commitment, Global Animal Partnership and Whole Foods are showing impressive leadership in getting to the root of the welfare problem facing chickens today. We will continue to encourage companies to address the key issues affecting farm animal welfare in their supply chain through the adoption of meaningful welfare certifications that also offer much needed accountability and transparency in an otherwise unregulated industry.

The ASPCA urges consumers to make welfare-conscious choices by seeking products from farms that are audited by trustworthy certifications programs, specifically Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Humane, Global Animal Partnership (Steps 2 and above, for now). We will continue to work with certification groups to make sure their standards are meaningful for animals. You can learn more about labels that impact farm animals’ lives by downloading our label guide.

You can also make your own commitment to improving chickens’ lives by taking our 30-day Change Your Chicken Challenge. When you sign up, you will receive shopping resources and ongoing support to help you shift your chicken purchases away from those coming from factory farms to brands that require higher welfare practices.