Compassion in World Farming is championing the campaign by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to turn the Devon town of Axminster into a free-range haven for chickens.
The pioneering TV chef and founder of River Cottage has used his programmes and books to show people where food comes from and to urge them to choose welfare-friendly products.
Around 95 per cent of chicken meat currently sold in the UK comes from intensive farms where tens of thousands of birds are crammed into dark sheds, bred and fed to grow super-fast, and slaughtered at about 40 days old. A quarter suffer serious leg problems, and a significant number of others succumb to other health problems before their short time is up.
This week Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has launched a Chicken Out campaign, challenging the people and businesses of Axminster to reject factory-farmed chicken and pay a bit extra for free range birds.
He hopes that for one week, from Saturday 6th October 2007, more than half of all chicken sold in the town will be free range. Five local restaurants or inns have already signed up, joining local farm and butcher's shops and River Cottage itself. Tesco and Co-op are also selling free range chicken meat.
The week's events will be filmed for inclusion in a national television programme about rearing chickens for food to be shown in 2008. Local people have also been invited to rear their own chickens to learn more about the way these birds behave naturally and what they need for a happy and healthy life.
Read more about our meat chicken campaign (known as broiler chickens).