Better Chicken Initiative

Why one Perdue factory farmer speaks out



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Take action today

Use our form to send this email:


Subject: Please replace your factory farmed chicken marketed as 'natural' 


Email the CEO of the store(s) you use:

Dear [Supermarket CEO],

As a regular customer of your stores, I was concerned to learn from this Compassion in World Farming video that chicken marketed as 'natural' and 'antibiotic-free,' such as your [Supermarket Brand] chicken, is actually raised in a conventional factory farmed environment.

I ask that you replace your [Supermarket Brand] chicken with a more humane option that uses meaningful third party auditing programs such as Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Humane, or Global Animal Partnership.

Currently, this product does not align with American values. There is nothing natural or humane about factory farming.

I urge you to allow your [Supermarket Brand] chicken more space to move around, environmental enrichment, natural light, and slower growth.


Respectfully,
[Your name]

    Brian Cornell
Target
    Robert Edwards
Safeway
    Dan Bane
Trader Joe's
    Doug McMillon
Walmart
    William Crenshaw
Publix
    Rodney McMullen
Kroger
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   
 

More about the Better Chicken Initiative

What do these "natural" labels really mean?


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Why do we need the better chicken initiative?

95% of all farmed animals in the United States are chickens raised for meat. That’s over 8 billion animals.leah crowding combined.jpg

Perdue, the third largest chicken producer in the country, is claiming and the USDA is verifying that Perdue’s chickens are “humanely raised.” Thanks to one brave farmer, Craig Watts, we now know better. The truth is, the picture back on the farm is far from humane. Birds are bred to get so big, so fast they can barely stand on their own two legs in their last week of life. They are kept in overcrowded warehouses, deprived of natural light and fresh air, spending their entire lives on a bed of feces-ridden litter that is often not changed in between flocks.

Chicken in supermarkets is often labeled as “natural.” But what does that mean? Unless there is a third party farm animal welfare auditing certification, like Global Animal Partnership, Certified Humane, or Animal Welfare Approved, the chickens are most likely raised in conventional factory farms conditions with little meaning for animal welfare. There is nothing natural or humane about factory farming.

We believe there is a better way. With your help, we can improve the lives of billions of chickens and create a more honest labeling system.  

"I SUPPORT THE BETTER CHICKEN INITIATIVE BECAUSE I WANT TO RAISE THE BAR OF STANDARD CHICKENS TO A TOTALLY DIFFERENT LEVEL – ONE THAT IS AFFORDABLE, ACCESSIBLE AND THAT I WOULD FEED TO MY OWN KIDS."

-Jamie Oliver, celebrity chef and activist

Write to your supermarket now

Craig Watts went into chicken farming as a contract farmer for one of the biggest chicken companies in the country, Perdue Farms, in order to support his family.  But after 22 years, he had reached breaking point.  He did something no one has done before. He invited a farm animal welfare organization, Compassion in World Farming, onto his farm to help tell his story.

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Compassion USA director Leah Garces says, “Craig and I realized that we wanted the same thing. We want to reform the chicken industry, and we have to stand shoulder to shoulder, farmer and animal advocate, to achieve that.”

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The Problem

Chickens today are genetic monsters raised in poor conditions:

warning-146916_640.png BRED TO GROW UNNATURALLY FAST AND LARGE

Birds reach market weight in just 42 days (around 6 weeks of age), compared to 80-120 days for slow growth and traditional breeds. A high growth rate means a bird grows so unnaturally fast, she can have difficulty walking and breathing.

warning-146916_640.png OVERCROWDED

Over 30,000 birds are crowded into one enclosed house. The birds can have so little space to move around that their legs become even weaker through lack of exercise. The sheds are generally bare except for feeding and drinking points and litter (such as wood shavings) on the floor.

warning-146916_640.png KEPT IN BARREN ENVIRONMENTS

With nothing but litter on the floor, feces build up over the bird's life, which they cannot escape from. Due to their high growth rates and high energy, protein dense diets, in the last weeks of life broilers spend more than 80% of their time inactive and sitting in this waste.

warning-146916_640.png GIVEN NO NATURAL LIGHT

The houses are dimly lit, and day length is extended to 18 hours or more so that birds eat more and gain more weight. The broilers do not perform natural behaviors and are largely sleep deprived.

Misleading food labels like “natural” often come with an added cost to consumers, without any meaningful impact on the welfare of chickens or economic gain for the farmer. The USDA verifies Perdue’s chickens as humanely raised. In reality, this term also has no standard definition, and our video of this Perdue chicken farm proves their claim is a far stretch from any common sense definition of humane. 

In October 2014, Perdue and Kroger (the largest grocer in the US) both settled lawsuits by agreeing to remove humanely raised labels from packaging on their Harvestland and Simple Truth chicken brands. However, the companies deny any wrongdoing, and insist their labels are not misleading and their chickens are “raised in a humane environment.”

No matter how they spin it, there is nothing humane or natural about factory farming. You can help end the humanewashing.

Write to your supermarket now

The Solution

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We believe a chicken should be allowed to be a chicken. This means giving her enough room to move around freely, an enriched environment and natural light to encourage natural behavior like scratching and wing flapping, and genetics that don’t inherently cause suffering.

The good news is there is a better way that is achievable right now. We are calling for 2 realistic actions:


1. Stop marketing and verifying factory farmed chicken as natural or humane.

2. Improve living conditions and slow down growth rates for chickens.


The Better Chicken Initiative is about consumers like you demanding a better quality of life for chickens and a healthier food and farming system for all.

By joining the Better Chicken Initiative, you become part of the movement to improve the lives of billions of chickens. Let your voice be heard by the food companies in the driver’s seat of our food system. We are asking them to source from farms that raise healthier, happier chickens with:

 

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BETTER HEALTH          SPACE      ENRICHMENT NATURAL LIGHT
Slower growth rates and healthier legs. More space to move around and stretch their limbs. Enriched environments that allow them to engage in natural behaviors. Natural light allowing a more natural routine.

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Only independent, third party labels like Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Humane, and Global Animal Partnership currently identify meaningful welfare standards consumers can trust.

                             

You can make this change happen. By writing to supermarkets, your voice will be heard by the food companies who have the power to change the way chickens are raised. Look below to find out other ways you can get involved and broaden your impact.

After visiting this Perdue farm, Mariana Van Zellar and an investigative team at Fusion are taking a deeper look at the chicken industry. Look out for their release in the coming months! Food businesses: find out what you can do to improve the lives of the chickens in your supply chain.

"WHETHER YOU ARE A CHEF OR A PARENT OR SUPERMARKET, THIS IS A THRILLING PROJECT THAT EVERYONE SHOULD WANT TO BE PART OF."

-Jamie Oliver, celebrity chef and activist

Special thanks to filmmaker Raegan Hodge.

What you can do

  1. Write to your supermarket now.
  2. Share the Better Chicken Initiative with your friends and family. 
  3. Sign the Better Chicken Initiative petition.
  4. Donate now. You can help improve the lives of chickens.