Over nine billion chickens are raised for meat each year in the United States. The vast majority of these animals endure unimaginable suffering throughout their short lives. Even practices considered “standard” by the industry would horrify many consumers. This is why Mercy For Animals has released a new animal welfare report that ranks retailers by the treatment of chickens in their supply chains.
Chickens are routinely bred for rapid growth, which can result in birds who are unable even to walk to food and water. These chickens sit immobile on waste-soaked bedding with their legs unnaturally splayed. The rapid growth can also cause organ stress and heart disease, among other painful ailments.
Many chickens at industrial farms live crowded together on filthy litter. These conditions can lead to painful ammonia burns and respiratory issues. Many do not survive until slaughter, and live chickens are sometimes forced to share a crowded space with the dead bodies of other birds.
After only five to seven weeks of life, the birds who have survived are loaded onto trucks and taken to a slaughterhouse. Many endure the cruelty of live-shackle slaughter. In a live-shackle system, birds are roughly hung upside down by their legs while fully conscious and dragged through electrified water. Research shows that many birds could just be paralyzed by the stun bath or miss it entirely and remain fully conscious when their throats are slit by automatic blades. This system is designed to kill as many chickens as possible in the least amount of time and is the predominant slaughter method for chickens in the United States.
Hundreds of restaurants, foodservice companies, manufacturers, and hospitality brands have already committed to addressing some of the worst animal welfare issues associated with chickens raised for meat. Thanks to public pressure, some supermarkets have even begun publishing their own meaningful chicken welfare policies. Our new animal welfare report ranks major U.S. retailers on these efforts, highlighting those that are leading the way and those that have failed to take action.
A few companies that have demonstrated clear leadership on animal welfare are Whole Foods, Sprouts Farmers Market, and Natural Grocers. But retailers like Target, Winn-Dixie, and ALDI have not published meaningful chicken welfare policies and have failed to ban practices that promote the greatest suffering in their chicken supply chains.
Your voice matters! Urge companies like ALDI, Target, and Trader Joe’s to ban the worst abuse by adopting a comprehensive chicken welfare policy. Click here to take action!