CIWF Logo Food Business
Search icon

The problems - and the solutions

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


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


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


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.


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


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

You are using an outdated browser which we do not support. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience and security.

If you have any further questions regarding this, or any other matter, please get in touch with us at We aim to respond to all queries within two working days. However, due to the high volume of correspondence that we receive, it may occasionally take a little longer. Please do bear with us if this is the case. Alternatively, if your query is urgent, you can contact our Supporter Engagement Team on +44 (0)1483 521 953 (lines open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm).