Billions of world’s chickens suffering in secret – survey

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NEW YORK— Few people know that the mass production of meat chickens is one of the biggest causes of animal suffering in the world, says World Animal Protection, as the organization launches a new campaign urging one of the world’s largest chicken fast food retailers, KFC, to improve living conditions for the chickens served in its restaurants.

Consumers are being kept in the dark, says World Animal Protection, as the organization releases a new global poll revealing just how little most consumers know about the chicken on our plates.

The poll – of 12,000 people worldwide – shows that although people are concerned about what they eat, very few know where their meat has come from.

What the poll tells us about U.S. consumer views:

  • Nine out of ten (89%) did not know that a chicken will only live on average 42 days
  • Of those who eat chicken, four out of five (77%) said they would not buy chicken from a fast-food chain if they knew it had suffered serious health problems as a result of living in a cramped industrial farm
  • Four out of five (81%) never ask where their chicken comes from at fast-food outlets.
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World Animal Protection CEO Steve McIvor said: “This conveyer belt of rapidly grown chickens comes at a price. Behind the world’s favorite meat is an unacceptable cost of suffering that is increasing as the global demand for chicken grows.”

On average, sixty billion meat chickens are raised for global consumption each year. Nearly 2,000 chickens are slaughtered every second on average. An estimated two-thirds of these animals (40 billion) live in bleak, overcrowded sheds or cages with little or no natural light or fresh air, unable to perform many natural behaviors, such as scratching, pecking and dustbathing.

Many chickens will suffer painful lameness and overworked hearts and lungs from the speed at which they are grown, and wounds like skin sores and burns from spending too long in their own waste. The chickens’ lives are miserable, but they are also shockingly short – many are slaughtered while still babies, at as young as five weeks old.

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World Animal Protection is now challenging one of the largest fast-food retailers of chicken, KFC, to improve the welfare standards of the chickens it serves in its restaurants. The organization is calling for slower-growing birds with more space, enrichment and natural light to allow for a better quality of life.

KFC’s animal welfare policy was developed by its parent company, Yum! Brands, which states that its goal “is to work only with suppliers that demonstrate and maintain compliance with animal welfare practices.” However, Yum! Brands is currently ranked in the second-lowest position by Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW), the global measure of company performance on animal welfare.

Steve McIvor continues: “We need to expose the woefully poor conditions that many factory-grown chickens are living in. They are suffering in secret, behind closed doors and away from public view. KFC has a huge stake in the market with more than 18,000 outlets in 115 countries; we’d like to see them use their global influence to show they care about the welfare of chickens.”

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To raise awareness of the secret suffering of chickens, World Animal Protection will also be running a billboard advertisement through the month of October in Times Square, highlighting common welfare problems for factory-farmed chickens and urging consumers to ask questions about the chicken they consume. – USNewswire

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