Perdue Farms, the nation’s fourth largest chicken producer, says efforts that began last year to improve conditions for its birds have been “going well.”
“This is a big change for our company as well as the industry,” company chairman Jim Perdue said in a recent interview. “Getting everyone aligned is the big challenge. From that aspect, I think things are going well as far as people understanding what we want to look like.”
According to Perdue, with the help of numerous animal rights groups, scientists, and its farmers, it’s working to develop the best ways to accommodate the birds beyond basic needs of food, water, and shelter.
Perdue is now giving its half-a-billion chickens more space and more light throughout the day, as well as increasing the number of chicken houses with windows. The company is also researching slow-growth chickens and how to better enrich the animals' lives. It has also begun moving to controlled-atmosphere stunning, which is considered the most humane slaughter method currently available.
“With Perdue’s commitment to meet demand for higher welfare chicken, transformation of the market is unstoppable,” Leah Garces, Compassion In World Farming’s U.S. Executive Director, said in a statement.
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“Major food companies are increasingly committing to treating chickens in their supply chains better,” Josh Balk, vice president of Farm Animal Protection at the Humane Society of the United States, said in a Perdue press release. “Perdue, with this announcement, becomes the largest poultry producer to ensure that this demand will be met. We applaud Perdue for focusing its improvements on the core areas of concern within the poultry industry and this holistic approach demonstrates all that’s possible in creating better lives for billions of chickens.”
The changes aren't just good for the chickens; Perdue notes that the company is helping its farmers to offset the costs to upgrade their operations.
“Now that the supply for better chicken is guaranteed,” said Garces, “there are no more excuses for food companies attempting to delay the inevitable.”
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