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Creating positive change for chickens!

In recent years, driven by consumer demand, investor considerations and market forces, there has been a number of higher welfare pledges for broiler chickens from global leaders across all food sectors.

White broiler chicken sitting on straw bedding amongst other chickens

More than 1 billion broilers are set to positively benefit from these corporate pledges.

What is the European / Better Chicken Commitment?

In September 2017, Compassion joined forces with a group of European NGOs asking the food industry to commit to new welfare standards for broiler chickens.

The European Chicken Commitment, also known as the Better Chicken Commitment, is a pledge committing its signatories to introduce higher welfare standards for all the chickens in their supply by 2026, including:

  • Moving to slower growing breeds for improved health and welfare
  • More space to live
  • Natural light, perches and pecking substrates so chickens can express natural behaviours
  • A more humane slaughter
  • Compliance with a meaningful third-party animal welfare certification and annual reporting

In Europe, over 380 companies have signed up for better chicken, including key brands like KFC, M&S, Unilever, Nestlé, Waitrose, Danone, Elior Group, Sodexo, and 99% of the French retail market.

In the US, over 230 companies have agreed a similar ask to provide better welfare for broilers by 2024. 

Compassion has worked closely with many of these food businesses.

Find out who has signed up for Better Chicken here.

Compassion helps drive change

Compassion works closely with its corporate partners to secure Better Chicken Commitments and helps them on their higher welfare journey by:

  • Working with companies to develop their roadmap for implementation, in particular making the business case; mapping the supply; finding solutions to barriers; marketing and consumer communications
  • Hosting industry fora where stakeholders across the supply share experiences on transition to the BCC, update on the latest information, and brainstorm next steps for progressing delivery
  • Participating in industry Working Groups on key topics to help resolve barriers to progress, such as: visual identity and consumer marketing; alternative breed availability; business to business connections; effective electric stunning without live inversion
  • Engaging with Assurance Schemes to encourage them to set standards and audit to the Better Chicken Commitment

Find out more about higher welfare broiler production here.

Broiler Case studies

Read our latest case study on how Norwegian retailer REMA 1000 Norge AS worked with its poultry producer Norsk Kylling to successfully implement the higher welfare requirements of the Better Chicken Commitment. 

Learn more about how M&S, the first UK retailer to sign up to the Better Chicken Commitment, successfully transitioned so that ALL its fresh chicken now complies with the BCC requirements. 

Also, watch the latest video of the Windstreek System that has been developed in The Netherlands which is a new, modern design of broiler shed, incorporating multiple features for improved welfare and sustainability. (You can also read a more detailed case study on this system.)

What's wrong with modern broiler chicken production?

The most farmed land animal on the planet – the broiler chicken - exists in a ‘physiological cage’, constricted by its high growth rate and oversized body, and raised in overcrowded barns. 

Compassion’s ongoing work with the food industry involves investigating supply chain solutions to help drive the market towards better chicken.

Too many birds, not enough room

Meat chickens are the most farmed land animal in the world. Seven billion are reared in Europe every year, and 90% of these are crammed into barren sheds.

Chickens can feel emotions just like us, such as pain and fear, so regularly suffer in these harsh conditions.

The problem - overcrowded sheds

Broilers_Crammed.jpg

Intensively farmed chickens are packed into overcrowded sheds - often with little or no natural light and only litter on the floor. They dislike being crammed together and will compress their feathers to avoid touching one another.

A lack of stimulating materials mean they spend most of their time inactive and bored.

The solution - room to breathe

REMA Chicken

A chicken’s life is transformed when they are given more space, natural light and can do what comes naturally: pecking, scratching, wing flapping and perching.

In the best systems, they have separate places to rest, feed, drink and play – and can go outside for fresh air and sunlight.

Too big. Too fast

Most chickens are bred to grow so quickly they suffer a range of health problems including heart defects, organ failure, muscle disease, foot lesions and compromised immune systems.

Chickens are healthier, happier and more active when they are bred to grow more slowly and have the space and stimulation they need to behave like chickens.

The problem - trapped in oversized bodies

Lame-Chicken.jpg

Intensively farmed chickens can struggle to walk and spend most of their time sitting doing nothing or become lame. Their high body weight causes their muscles to degenerate. Many also develop heart conditions making them even more inactive and prone to metabolic problems. 

The solution - a natural, healthy size

Broilers-perching-on-wood-frame2.jpg

Slower growing breeds means:

  • Chickens have more natural proportions and are able to walk more easily
  • Chickens have stronger hearts and better resistance to disease
  • Chickens have stronger, healthier muscles which provides good quality meat

 

Bad for them. Bad for us.

The majority of chickens reared for meat are bred to grow so fast they're ready for market as early as 33 days old. This is exhausting for them and leads to serious health problems.

ChickenGrowth_1092_animated.gif

Selective breeding to create fast-growing animals, and their poor living conditions, means antibiotics are often routinely used to combat disease. 

The problem - unhealthy for chickens and consumers

Broiler-Chicken-image_CIWF.jpg

Poor immune systems and living conditions allow bacteria to flourish, which can lead to a greater risk of food poisoning

Antibiotics are routinely given to chickens to survive poor welfare systems, when they should only be given to sick animals.

The quality and nutritional content of intensively farmed chicken meat is also poorer.

The solution - healthier chicken, better for customers

12Broilers Eligibilitycriteria (1)

Making sure chickens don’t grow too fast and have better living conditions dramatically reduces the need for antibiotics. As a result fewer chickens become infected with harmful bacteria.

Higher welfare chicken means you can offer better quality meat and healthier, more nutritious food to your customers.

Higher welfare chicken is:

  • Better for chickens - they are more active and healthy in higher welfare systems
  • Better for health - less disease and reduced risk of food poisoning
  • Better for your customers - higher quality, more nutritious food

Join the broiler revolution!

11 Broilers

Working together we can investigate supply chain solutions and stimulate the market for higher welfare chicken. 

Find out more about our Good Chicken Award.

Read the European Chicken Commitment overview.

Read all our Broiler resources here.

Read more

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