NEW YORK, Dec. 7, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As global chicken consumption grows each year, the mass production of meat chickens remains one of the biggest causes of animal suffering in the world, says international animal welfare charity World Animal Protection.
In recent years, consumers have demanded higher-welfare food products, and numerous major food businesses have pledged to convert to sourcing cage-free eggs. But the plight of meat chickens remains hidden from sight with most people not knowing where the meat on their plate comes from.
Here are ten facts about factory-farmed chicken raised for meat that consumers should know:
10 things to know about factory-farmed chickens:
- 60 billion chickens are raised every year across the world to be sold for their meat.
40 billion of these will be raised in huge, crowded sheds, or cages, kept in dismal conditions that can cause them painful heart, skin, lung and bone problems and immense stress.
- Chicken is now one of the world's most popular meats. Between 1996-2016, demand for chicken meat grew 22% in the United States, 38% in the European Union, 89% in China, and 183% in India. The average U.S. consumer is expected to consume 89.6 pounds of chicken meat in 2016, up from 88.9 pounds per capita in 2015.
- A factory-farmed chicken lives an average of just 42 days. A chicken's natural life expectancy is several years.
- Factory-farmed chickens gain more than 1.76 ounces every day, but their immune systems, organs and legs cannot keep up, meaning they can suffer a range of physical problems.
- Because of their shortened life span, chickens bred for meat may look fully grown, but they are still babies when they are slaughtered.
- Specific breeds of chicken are bred only for meat, genetically selected for their ability to reach "slaughter weight" as fast as possible.
- Around 2,000 meat chickens are slaughtered every second.
- By the time they are ready for slaughter, many meat chickens live in a space smaller than an 8.5 by 11" piece of paper.
- Chickens love "dust-bathing": digging a shallow hole to jump in and covering themselves in dry dust and dirt. It's an important natural behavior, keeping their feathers in good condition and removing parasites. Factory-grown chickens are commonly prevented from dust-bathing and carrying out other important behaviors, such as pecking, scratching and perching.
- Seven out of ten chicken (71%) consumers polled globally for World Animal Protection admitted that, when buying chicken at a fast-food outlet, they never ask where it comes from.
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."
As the demand for chicken meat continues to rise, World Animal Protection believes consumers should no longer be kept in the dark, as the organization releases a new global poll revealing just how little we know about the chicken on our plate.
The poll – of 12,000 people worldwide - shows that although people are concerned about what they eat, very few know where that 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.
World Animal Protection is challenging fast food retailers such as KFC to improve the welfare of billions of chickens, because mass production is one of the biggest causes of animal suffering in the world. The organization wants to see:
- The use of chicken breeds that grow at a slower, more natural rate
- More living space for the chickens
- More enrichments for the chickens to engage with and explore, such as perches and hay bales
- The introduction of natural light in the sheds
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 want to see them use their global influence to show they care about the welfare of chickens."
Note to editors
- For an interview with a spokesperson, contact Carla Pisarro, +1-646-783-2210, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Photos and b-roll footage is available of industrially farmed chicken in sheds and cages are available upon request. These are not linked to a particular fast-food retailer -- they are examples of industrial farming to highlight some of the welfare conditions.
- To read World Animal Protection's report, "Exposing the secret suffering of chickens farmed for meat", visit https://www.worldanimalprotection.org/sites/default/files/int_files/exposing_the_secret_suffering_of_chickens_farmed_for_meat.pdf
- A short video asking consumers to think about what's on their plate is also available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZlkOBkmroA
- The opinion poll referenced was conducted in twelve countries: UK, Sweden, Netherlands, Denmark, USA, Canada, India, Brazil, Thailand, New Zealand, Australia and China. The poll was conducted by TNS Global.
- The questions we asked in the polling were:
- On average, approximately how long do you think a factory farmed chicken lives for before they become chicken meat in your country?
- When ordering chicken at a fast-food outlet, do you ever ask or check where the chicken comes from? By this we mean the type of place it was reared and not the country it came from.
- Thinking still about buying chicken at a fast-food outlet. If you knew that the chicken, you were buying had experienced deformities or serious health problems.
To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/10-things-to-know-about-factory-farmed-chickens-300374761.html
SOURCE World Animal Protection