BREAKING: Historic Progress for Farmed Chickens

An historic announcement from two of the nation's largest foodservice companies means progress for farmed chickens.

A campaign led by The Humane League, Compassion in World Farming, and the Humane Society United States, has resulted in progress for chickens who are raised for meat, or “broilers”, living on factory farms. Two of the largest foodservice companies, Compass Group and Aramark, have announced groundbreaking changes to their animal protection policies which will greatly reduce the suffering of animals.

These two massive companies serve food across tens of thousands of colleges, universities and business campuses. Compass Group alone serves more than 10 million meals each day in the United States.

Their historic announcement means that the companies’ chicken suppliers will have to meet new standards in animal protection. The new standards will help in addressing key concerns for broiler chickens:

  • Reducing the stocking density to less than 6 pounds per square foot, reducing overcrowding.
  • Moving away from fast growth birds which suffer genetic complications that can put them at greater risk for physical deformities, disease, and even deadly heart attacks.
  • Providing enriched environments that include access to natural light, hay bales, and perches. This enables natural behaviors that result in reduced emotional distress.
  • Rendering chickens unconscious before they are shackled and slaughtered.

These changes are substantial improvements to the conditions that more than 8 billion chickens currently face in the United States. At most suppliers, chickens are forced to live in filthy, cramped conditions with up to 40,000 birds in just one shed. They are selectively bred to grow so large so fast that their legs and lungs cannot sustain them; their limbs break, it’s difficult for them to breathe and many die of heart attacks at just a few weeks old. During slaughter, birds are fully conscious as they are shackled and electrically shocked before they have their throats slit open and slaughtered.

Announcements like this demonstrate the growing success of the animal protection movement, as Aramark and Compass Group are giants in the foodservice industry. This is truly a new beginning in the movement for animal protection standards and will cause a wave of other companies to follow suit.