New findings reveal that the chicken Americans eat suffer unbearable pain during their short lives on factory farms. A new groundbreaking study concludes that the most widely produced breeds of chicken, including nearly all chicken consumed at restaurants and sold in grocery stores, endure suffering—even when raised in ideal conditions with careful management.

Commissioned by Global Animal Partnership (G.A.P.), the country’s most rigorous animal welfare auditing program, and conducted by the University of Guelph, a prestigious, independent research university, the study tested 7,500 birds from 16 strains of chicken breeds over two years, measuring key welfare indicators, such as behavior, physiology, immunology, production, and meat quality, the first of its kind to do so. 

Advertisement

The results are clear: conventional breeds of chicken raised for meat, termed “rapid growth” breeds due to selective breeding that causes the animals to reach market weight unnaturally fast, suffer muscle myopathies, deformities, poor foot health, and have trouble standing or walking. These findings were consistent among birds raised under controlled conditions (proper environment, food, space, etc.), though early results suggest that under more realistic, less ideal conditions, these breeds may perform even more poorly.

Leading food companies have been awaiting these results for the past two years. Companies such as Burger King, Chipotle, Campbell Soup, and Conagra, have already committed to move away from the chicken breeds the study associated with the worst health and quality problems. More than 185 food companies in the US alone have pledged to the switch by adopting the Better Chicken Commitment, a set of welfare standards that includes higher-welfare breeds.

While many companies have seen the writing on the wall for conventional bird strains, others, including McDonald’s, have dismissed the need to change breed in order to improve chicken welfare. McDonald’s, which purchases chicken from Tyson Foods, has commissioned a study to justify its own vague commitments on chicken welfare. Specifically, McDonald’s refuses to phase in higher-welfare chicken breeds and instead has committed to using chickens raised in better environments. This ignores the science that rapid growth genetics, not environmental conditions, is the primary threat to chicken welfare and meat quality. Their position stands apart from the more than 185 companies that have signed on to the Better Chicken Commitment

With Guelph’s new study, the science is in—it is critical that we stop breeding chickens to grow so large, so quickly, that they suffer from debilitating injuries and pain. It’s time for the companies who say they care about animal welfare and corporate responsibility to back up their claims by switching to higher welfare chicken breeds.

Advertisement

Though this study is the most comprehensive to date, it builds on an existing body of research that finds birds bred to grow extremely fast suffer from heart attacks, bone disease, organ failure, immobility, and debilitating pain. Studies find slower-growing breeds have much less trouble walking and are healthier overall in comparison. This latest research further confirms that shifting away from conventional breeds is paramount to improving chicken welfare. 

This new research will determine the fate of the chicken industry, at a pivotal time when consumers are increasingly concerned about where their food comes from.

Sign this petition to tell the chicken industry to Stop Boiling Birds Alive

Related Content:

Learn How to Cook Plant-Based Meals at Home!

Reducing your meat intake and eating more plant-based foods is known to help with chronic inflammationheart healthmental wellbeingfitness goalsnutritional needsallergiesgut health, and more! Dairy consumption also has been linked to many health problems, including acnehormonal imbalancecancerprostate cancer and has many side effects.

Advertisement

For those of you interested in eating more plant-based, we highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest plant-based recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy! And, while you are at it, we encourage you to also learn about the environmental and health benefits of a plant-based diet.

Here are some great resources to get you started:

For more Animal, Earth, Life, Vegan Food, Health, and Recipe content published daily, subscribe to the One Green Planet Newsletter! Lastly, being publicly-funded gives us a greater chance to continue providing you with high-quality content. Please consider supporting us by donating!

Advertisement