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Survey: US consumers want more humanely raised chicken

There is distrust of the chicken industry among US consumers and a strong desire for more humanely raised chicken choices at the grocery store, a survey by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has found.

In the US, chicken is the most frequently eaten meat, with consumption rising by 17% last year, according to the National Chicken Council. While a majority of Americans eat chicken, the newly released survey conducted by Edge Research, Inc. and commissioned by the ASPCA as part of its national 'Truth About Chicken' campaign, reveals that consumers are very concerned with how chickens are treated on the farm.

The ASPCA's survey found that more than 80% of respondents feel it's important that the chickens they eat be humanely raised. Yet, less than a third of respondents trust the companies that make chicken products to treat their chickens in a humane fashion.

Humane treatment of chickens raised for meat is more than just a moral imperative. Seventy-eight percent of chicken consumers surveyed feel that raising chickens humanely leads to safer chicken products, and more than 75% of chicken consumers surveyed wish there were more humanely-raised chicken options available at their local grocery stores.

"Concern for farm animal welfare is increasing – Americans want to know the chicken they eat has been raised in a humane environment, both for the birds' sakes and for their own health," said Matt Bershadker, president and CEO of the ASPCA. "The more these concerns are raised, the closer we'll come to a time when farm animals are not abused, nor our health potentially imperiled, in the name of cheaper dinners and higher profits."

Consolidation of the chicken industry has placed the production of chicken in the hands of a few large companies, resulting in very little variety in the type of chicken the average American can buy or order in a restaurant, the welfare group has claimed.

"It's incredibly important that concerned consumers share their desire for more humane chicken options," said Suzanne McMillan, senior director for the ASPCA's Farm Animal Welfare Program. "We need fundamental changes in the way we raise chickens for meat to alleviate the needless suffering of billions of birds and create safer food options for Americans."

The ASPCA advocates for raising chickens with more balanced growth in better conditions, which will result in healthier birds with overall higher welfare.

World Poultry

2 comments

  • Antonio Gennaccaro

    I cannot speak for all contract broiler growers, but on our farm we always treat our birds as humanely as we can. Our tunnel ventilated building houses the alllowable number of birds per square metre, the temperature is electronically regulated to ensure the birds are comfortable. We ensure the water supply is 99.9% pure with a 4 stage filtering system. We have a 'sick bay' within the building for any birds found injured or requiring special attention so they can be better cared for. At harvest time, birds are transported at night as the temperature is much cooler, with less traffic on the roads which allow the birds to travel as comfortable as possible in the shortest possible time. Can we be more humane than that? We ask readers and consumers to have an open mind when they see the many exagerated articles from animal rights activists and we urge you to do a bit of your own research before jumping on their bandwagon. We do care about our product to ensure the consumer recieves the best quality chicken. Suggestions or feedback are most welcome.

  • Christopher Don Christopher

    D.C.Hettiarachchi
    The genetic potential of modern broiler birds is such that it can attain about 1.6 kg (live weight) within a short period as short as 27 days at density as high as 38 kg per squire meter in a close house provided the best management practices are followed. Any business that involves lives stocks can not sustain if the animals are subjected to stress during rearing. Any experienced broiler operator can judge whether his birds are under stressed or not and if not he knows his business can not sustain with the current feed prices. Up to six vaccines are some times given to broilers to protect the birds from three main poultry viral diseases during rearing period which is mostly not extended more than 40 days (children of some parts of the world are not even treated like this).
    Mr. Antonio has correctly given some of the best management practices in close house broiler operation and with all these good practices, if some one guesses that the broilers are not treated humanely,it is misleading.

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