Better Welfare for Meat Chickens
Chicken is the most popular meat in Australia, with Australians eating an average of 45kg of chicken meat every year. To meet this demand, Australian farmers raise over 550 million meat chickens annually.
Most meat chickens are raised in large sheds and on some farms, the birds have access to the outdoors. Farming such large numbers of birds to meet demand has meant that the welfare of farmed chicken has the potential to be seriously compromised.
Chickens are bred to grow and gain weight very quickly. This rapid growth rate can result in leg problems which are exacerbated in dimly-lit sheds where birds are encouraged to eat a lot but move very little. Birds can suffer ammonia burns and blisters on their feet and breast areas if the litter which covers the floor is not kept dry.
In recent years, the meat chicken industry has taken substantial strides forward in improving animal welfare with the uptake of the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme standards. The RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme is the RSPCA’s farm assurance scheme focused on giving farm animals a better life. With more than half of the chicken produced in Australia now RSPCA Approved, sourcing humanely farmed chicken has never been easier.
And for millions of meat chickens every year, this move by the industry has meant better housing conditions where birds have more space to move and are encouraged to be active with proper lighting, perches to build leg strength and dry litter covering the floor for better leg health and to scratch and dustbathe.