Breaking news: Perdue announces major reforms for chickens; progress spotlights poultry problems, solutions

By on June 26, 2016 with 9 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

As we begin our launch of a major campaign to improve the lives of chickens raised for meat, I’m happy to report one of the biggest brand names in the world of chicken production is announcing promising reforms.

The HSUS has helped set veal crates, gestation crates, and battery cages on a trajectory toward extinction in the United States, through our corporate, legislative, litigation, and investigative efforts (which are partly chronicled in a feature piece this week in CQ Roll Call and also in Sunday’s column by Rekha Basu in the Des Moines Register). While we’re keeping the heat on to ensure the finality of outcomes (including through our Massachusetts ballot measure), many are asking, “What’s next for corporate animal welfare improvements?”

The answer is clear: improving the lives of chickens in meat production. And today marks a pivotal moment in the early stages of our making that issue top-of-mind for the food industry: Perdue, the country’s fourth-largest poultry producer, has announced a series of meaningful and precedent-setting reforms to improve the lives of the roughly 700 million birds it raises and slaughters each year.

According to its new policy, which came after a series of meetings we had with the company, Perdue will:

  • switch all its slaughterhouses away from shackling live animals and toward controlled atmosphere stunning — a method of slaughter long recognized by scientists and advocates alike as being far less cruel;
  • start installing windows to provide birds natural light and add enrichment (like hay bales and perches);
  • start testing slower-growing birds (typical growth occurs so fast that it causes immense suffering); and
  • start providing more space per bird.

We’ll continue to work with Perdue toward ensuring the company adds timelines for accomplishing these important steps. Coupled with Whole Foods’ and Bon Appétit Management Company’s announcements earlier this year on this topic, Perdue’s decision shows even more clearly that while the poultry industry needs much reform, change on this issue is gathering momentum.

It also shows how key actors within animal agriculture and animal protection can join together to make progress on big problems—even when those involved are former foes. The HSUS previously sued Perdue for false labeling around animal welfare claims and yet the company now has positioned itself at the head of the pack on the very issue we battled on. Perdue certainly deserves credit for the being first major company to begin addressing these issues, as do Compassion in World Farming and Mercy For Animals, for their work with us and Perdue on this policy.

We’re now calling on all other major poultry producers—including Tyson, Pilgrim’s Pride, and Sanderson Farms—to follow Perdue’s lead and take steps to address these key issues. Change for the birds cannot come soon enough.

Will other producers try and fight the future? Or will they be proactive in creating policies like Perdue’s that mirror the broad increase in calls for a more morally alert and improved food system? Whichever path they decide on, we’ll be there to propel and demand change for the better. With nine billion chickens caught up each year in food production in our country, this is perhaps one of the most important things we can do to reduce animal suffering.

Farm Animals

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  1. Linda Ensing says:

    Please improve the living conditions of chickens!

  2. Birgitta Nostring says:

    Good luck with that !
    Saying and doing are two entirely different parts of reality !

  3. Amy says:

    I guess using gases would be more humane compared to being burned alive in hot water if the bird had missed all other killing methods. Good work HSUS. I would like to know the specifics on natural light and more space given. Is it a crack of light, an extra inch of space? For how long are these “luxuries” provided? It seems food manufacturers are always looking for loopholes to what they agree to. Humans are born with such high levels of empathy and are given conciences, these conditions shouldn’t exist for any species. Especially toward animals that sustain our bodies, our temples. These animals give us life. We should be more appreciative of them. We should honor them and thank them. HSUS is doing all they can. If more people backed them maybe the food manufacturers would change their ways next week. Wayne Pacelle is a vegan, he does walk the walk. I know being vegan for everyone is alot to ask but advocating for animals should be on every meat eaters agenda.

  4. Pam says:

    Thank you.

    700 million chickens x infinity

  5. Peggy Ellison says:

    One of the most disturbing things I have to see when travelling on rt. 13 in VA are the “killing trucks on their way to Perdue and Tyson to deliver these poor animals to their deaths. I cannot look at them, blowing in the wind, piled on top of each other and am sure many suffocate. Oh how cruel we are towards our animals—how sad to see this abuse–all food animals are treated with complete disregard. I wish we could go back to local farm animals, at least they can have a bit of happiness before they are eaten.
    Thanks to all, esp. Wayne Pacelle,who are working so hard to give them a decent life.

  6. Debra Lute says:

    I believe all things are created equal in God’s world an a more humane way for feeding people is not to control the animal population cruelly an in humane. I would not want my chickens to be in captivity an boiled alive just so i could have them for food.

  7. Denni A says:

    year after year it’s the same old heralding, every animal factory industry is going to change, in 20 years. like it takes 20 yrs to remove battery cages and gestation crates. as the saying goes “the way to get started is quit talking”.

    I’ll believe it when I see it with my own eyes.

  8. Stacey says:

    This is great news. I hate the thought of animals living a horrible life. When will these changes be made?

  9. Joanne M. says:

    You can all stop the horrific life and death of factory farmed animals by NOT eating them. Everyone cries about the dog meat trade in Asia, but no one seems to care enough to stop eating meat here in America. other Nations are taking heed to the lack of quality of meat and how these sentient creatures live and die for our food desires. Conduct some of your own personal research, not only about Global factory farming, but also about HSUS. Write and contact your local legislature and become an advocate for animals. We cannot continue to cause continual control and harm to animals while continuing to exist on Earth.

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