Update on Chickens! Winning the Fight for Billions of Birds

October 16, 2017

ASPCA volunteer with a chicken

We love sharing good news! There’s been significant progress recently toward reducing the suffering of the nearly 9 billion chickens raised for meat each year in this country. Here are some highlights and an urgent new action that you can take if you’d like to help.

Higher-Welfare Breeds Take Flight

Chickens raised for meat (known as “broilers”) have been genetically selected to put on as much weight as quickly as possible. This might not sound incredibly alarming unless you know the consequences: their organs and skeletons struggle to keep up with this rapid growth, resulting in enormous and senseless suffering. Chickens often endure painful health ailments including lameness, labored breathing and heart failure. Raising healthier, more balanced chicken breeds in better environments can greatly improve these welfare issues.

Advocates are calling on companies to commit to raising chickens more humanely. So far, over 50 companies, from Panera Bread® to Dunkin’ Donuts®, have committed to sourcing better breeds and giving them more spacious, enriched living environments that meet the standards of Global Animal Partnership (GAP) and other meaningful, independent welfare certifications. For more on the standards of various welfare certifications, check out our NEW chicken label guide.

REAL Certified Restaurants

REAL Certified, an organization that verifies restaurants’ responsible sourcing, partnered with the ASPCA to require welfare-certified animal products in the program’s participating restaurants by 2021. A number of REAL Certified restaurants have already stepped up to commit to these higher welfare standards for chickens, including Genuine Foods, Fresh&Co, The Plant Café Organic, and The Star and Little Star Pizza. Learn more about REAL Certified’s animal welfare standards and the companies committed to banning inhumane practices in their supply chains. 

A New Threat to Chickens—How You Can Help

Despite this good news for chickens, there’s also an urgent threat to their welfare. The National Chicken Council (NCC) recently petitioned the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to increase allowable slaughter line speeds. Currently, slaughterhouses are allowed to process 140 birds per minute—but NCC wants to go even faster. Increasing line speeds would result in more inhumane slaughter and suffering for chickens, and could reduce the well-being of already strained workers and threaten food safety.

Let’s keep making progress for chickens! Please sign our petition to tell NCC to #SlowtheCluckDown and withdraw this inhumane, reckless proposal.