Improve Welfare Standards for Chickens

Target: Micheal J Brown, President, National Chicken Council

Goal: Ensure that the updated welfare standards provide meaningful improvement to the well-being of chickens

The National Chicken Council (NCC) will soon release new animal welfare guidelines, which will set the standard for how chickens across America are kept and cared for. It is important that these new guidelines reflect poultry customers’ growing concerns about animal cruelty, and bring meaningful change to the welfare of chickens.

The majority of the 9 billion farm animals raised in the United States every year are chickens, but the chicken industry remains one of the cruelest.

Chickens raised for their meat are kept in large, open houses; however the number of chickens typically crammed into the houses results in about three-quarters of a foot of space per bird. These cramped conditions lead to poor air quality and an inability to perform natural behaviors such as grazing.

Selectively bred birds, combined with constant artificial lighting designed to increase appetite, results in unbelievably fast growth rates; chickens are often ready for slaughter at the young age of six weeks. If these chicks were human babies, they would go from 6.6 lbs to 660 lbs in six weeks. Without the muscle strength to sustain their weight, the chickens often lay immobilized in piles of their own filth.

The NCC has a chance to greatly improve the short lives of chickens in America by implementing new animal welfare codes of conduct, and should look at both living conditions and growth rate. Not only are current conditions cruel, but they can have an effect on the safety of the meat for human consumption.

The new welfare guidelines should reflect poultry customers’ growing desire for humanely-raised products. Ask the NCC to require a larger minimum area of space per bird. Also ask that growth-stimulating techniques be minimized in order to promote healthier, more natural growth rates.


Dear Micheal J Brown, President, National Chicken Council,

The upcoming release of the National Chicken Council’s welfare guidelines will determine welfare standards for nearly nine billion chickens annually. It is imperative that issues such as space, living conditions, and growth rate be addressed in these guidelines.

As you know, chickens in many large scale farms have around three-quarters of a square foot of living space per animal. In these cramped conditions, they lose their natural behaviors and become listless. Growth-stimulation techniques such as selective breeding and artificial lighting result in incredibly and unnaturally quick growth rates; chickens are often slaughtered for meat at the sixth week.

I ask that more space be required per animal to allow for some space and movement. I also ask that growth-stimulation techniques be reduced in order to provide a more natural and healthy growth period.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Larry Rana via WikiMedia Commons

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