Millions Of UK Chickens Die Before They Reach Slaughter Age, Says Report

Campaigners are urging retailers to join the Better Chicken Commitment


2 Minutes Read

Group of broiler chicken in poultry Open Cages is calling for better chicken treatment in the UK - Media Credit: AnomHarya | Adobe Stock

Millions of chickens die ahead of slaughter in the UK as a result of poor animal welfare standards, according to a new investigation.

A new report from animal advocacy organization Open Cages found that one million chickens die every week in the UK “in pain and misery.” This is because the meat industry breeds the animals so that they grow so fast that their bodies “can’t cope.”

While chickens can live for around six years outside of a factory farm, they are usually slaughtered at around eight to 12 weeks in the meat industry. Unless they die beforehand.

Campaigners are now asking for more retailers to back the Better Chicken Commitment. This is a “leading set of standards” for better animal welfare practices. It includes the phase-out of fast-growing breeds. 

A number of fast food companies and retailers have already pledged to support the commitment, including Burger King, Waitrose, M&S, and Subway.

But Open Cages says UK supermarkets, including Tesco, Morrisons, Lidl, and Sainsbury’s, are falling behind. The nonprofit labels fast-growing breeds “FrankenChickens.”

These chickens run the risk of lameness, muscle disease, and heart failure.

Encouraging change in the industry

Open Cages’ CEO Connor Jackson told the Guardian that it’s “appalling” that UK supermarkets sell fast-growing breeds. TV presenter and conservationist Chris Packham added that “consumers would be utterly disgusted” to know the truth behind cheap chicken. 

Open Cages has written an open letter to the CEOs of a number of UK supermarkets and is encouraging supporters to add their names as a signature.

It reads: “Hundreds of companies globally have signed the Better Chicken Commitment and pledged to address these major welfare issues.”

“I call on British retailers to do the same and use their influential positions as market leaders. You could make a huge difference to the lives of hundreds of millions of sentient beings.”

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