According to a new report over a million meat chickens are dying every week in the UK before reaching their ‘normal’ slaughter weight.

An analysis of government figures by the animal welfare charity Open Cages has revealed that over 60 million ‘broiler chickens‘ die prematurely each year in the UK. These dead birds are then either incinerated or ground into usable materials such as protein meal.

Chris Packham, the broadcaster and conservationist, said:

“I think consumers would be utterly disgusted to know that a million of these intelligent, sensitive birds are dying every week to get cheap chicken on to their plates.

The utter misery these animals face on a daily basis is unnecessary and would outrage even the most ardent meat-eaters because it serves no purpose but to satisfy the profits of our major supermarkets, who refuse to help them.”

Animal welfare campaigners say the mortality rates could be significantly reduced by the industry adopting more humane welfare standards. They are urging retailers to support the Better Chicken Commitment, which is an initiative to phase out fast-growing breeds and reduce the cruel stocking density.

Welfare experts say the modern broiler chicken is genetically bred to grow so quickly that it puts a huge strain on its body, increasing the risk of cardiac arrest. (see below)

Research has also shown that fast-growing broiler chickens, which reach their kill weight in just 35 days, have a much higher mortality rate than the slower growing normal breeds. One of the most common causes of death in these flocks is heart failure, or sudden death syndrome.

They also suffer suffer extremley painful lameness and a variety of muscle diseases.

Connor Jackson, chief executive of Open Cages, which has produced the new report, said:

“The supermarkets sell food with advertisements of animals in green fields but never show broiler chickens in sheds. It’s appalling that the supermarkets continue to sell these fast-growing breeds.”

While all the major retailers in France have signed the Better Chicken Commitment, it is not yet supported by the biggest supermarkets in Britain.

Its backers to date include Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Pret, KFC and the food service company the Compass Group.

Sainsbury’s announced last April that its fresh chicken would be bred with 20% more space than the UK standard by March 2023.

And Here Comes the BS

BS Part one: The British Poultry Council, the trade group for the industry, said:

“Our birds are the most valuable part of production so we are working incredibly hard to minimise the level of mortality in the process, which is averaging at around 4%.

We use a variety of production systems, including Better Chicken Commitment, according to the demand of consumers. It has a higher environmental impact and cost of production, so it currently makes up only 1%one percent of the market. We are an industry driven by consumer preference.”

BS Part two: Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said:

“Our members take their responsibilities to animal welfare very seriously, and they ensure it is a key part of the production standards for all the meat they sell.

“Retailers already give consumers the choice of how their chicken is reared, including free-range and organic chicken, in addition to the standard range.”

BS Part three: A Defra spokesperson said:

“All farm animals are protected by comprehensive and robust animal health and welfare legislation. We welcome the fact that many businesses have already signed up to the Better Chicken Commitment and encourage others to do so. We are exploring how government can better support this best practice.”

And Here’s the Reality….

Words fail me so let these videos below tell you all you need to know about this profit driven and appalling treatment of the poor chickens that end up (wrapped in plastic) on our supermarkets shelves.

Viewer Discretion Advised

And Finally….

One of the obvious distinctions between organic and non-organic chickens are the living conditions in which they’re kept. The sheds where the commercial chickens are kept can house up to 30,000 chickens, giving them no space to stretch their legs, spread their wings or even turn around.

Growth-promoting drugs are given to commercial chickens in order to speed up the rearing process and get them to market faster.

As a result of their abnormal growth, the chicken’s internal organs are damaged and their legs often can’t support their own weight.
They’re also given routine antibiotics to prevent diseases caused by their unsanitary lifestyle.

Organic farming takes a more natural approach by raising chickens in a clean, humane way.
By contrast organic chickens live in much smaller flocks with roomier houses, which create a less stressful environment for them. They also have access to the outdoors and can forage for food and insects, socialise with each other and express their innate behaviours.

Free range chickens live a healthier, happier lifestyle that’s more natural to them.

Are you wondering what happens to the aforementioned chemicals given to commercial chickens? These chemicals travel through the food chain, meaning YOU ingest traces of these chemicals when you eat these chickens.

Organic chicken contains fewer pesticides and synthetic additives, and it’s leaner as a result of the animals’ healthier lifestyle. This means you get a great tasting source of protein and essential vitamins that’s much better for you.

Rambling in Pen thanks you for reading. If you found this article informative please share with your friends and family.

We leave you now with a tune by Lynyrd Skynyrd – Freebird.

Author: Michael W

Special thanks to …

Chris Packham

Open Cages

Animal Equality