Modern breeds of chickens raised for meat production have seen a dramatic increase in growth rate over the last few decades due to genetics and specific breeding programs. These programs have created a more efficient and cheaper chicken production process; however, poor animal welfare is a grave unforeseen consequence of this genetic selection. With heavier body weights at a young age, broiler chickens often experience restricted bone and organ development and are more susceptible to leg pain, lameness, and heart complications.
Global Animal Partnership (GAP) is leading the way to improve the lives of chickens raised for meat through their “Better Chicken Welfare Initiative.” This initiative aims to replace 100% of chicken breeds that result in poor welfare outcomes by 2024 with breeds meeting specified welfare outcomes within their comprehensive standards and labeling program. Their animal welfare standards include components such as health and productivity, natural living, and emotional well being. They’re calling on food businesses to allow chickens to have healthier genetics, more space, enriched environments to encourage natural behavior, a better method of slaughter, and compliance with a meaningful third-party animal welfare certification and annual reporting. This far-reaching initiative is positively influencing the food industry, raising consumer expectations, and creating a sustainable environment. To learn more, visit globalanimalpartnership.org/.