A short documentary and a report looking into the lives of meat (broiler) chickens, have been released today (2nd March).
Made by World Animal Protection, with research carried out by the RSPCA and funded by Farm Animal Welfare Forum (FAWF) of which we are a member, the results are clear: slower growing broiler chickens lead healthier, happier lives.
Over the last few decades, the chicken industry has genetically selected broiler chickens to grow bigger, faster. This rapid growth results in an increase in deformities with the birds often unable to move around as their bodies are too heavy for their legs. Sean Gifford, our Global Head of Campaigns says, of fast-growing birds: “They lead short, miserable lives. Pain and suffering is their everyday existence.”
The RSPCA’s report ‘Eat. Sit. Suffer. Repeat.’ compares the health, welfare and production characteristics of three of the world’s most commonly used fast-growing breeds with a slower-growing commercially viable breed.
The RSPCA research showed that fast growing birds were:
- Up to twice as likely to die or be culled primarily due to ill health (up to 11%).
- Up to four times more likely to suffer from hockburn, where birds suffer sores to their legs from resting on the litter, often for too long due to inactivity.
- Up to 3.5 times more likely to suffer from moderate to severe lameness and require culling.
- More likely to spend their time sitting (around 72% of the time) compared to slower-growing birds (51%).
Slower growing breed live happier healthier lives
The RSPCA’s new breed trial report has a clear outcome. Jonty Whittleton, Global Campaign Head at World Animal Protection, says: “Slower growing birds are a better choice – better for the chicken and better for consumers.”
Sean Gifford, says: “Slower growing breeds suffer less and live longer, happier lives.”
The need for change
Kate Parkes, Chicken Welfare Specialist at the RSPCA, says: “Chickens are the most numerously produced animals worldwide – there are about 66 billion slaughtered for meat every year. This trial has highlighted the need for change."