Sainsbury’s chicken pledge ‘ignores biggest welfare issue’

The Humane League has criticised Sainsbury’s for “ignoring” the “biggest and most pressing welfare issue for chickens” regarding genetics.

The warning comes after the Big 4 grocer committed to providing chickens with 20% more space than the industry standard by March 2023.

However, the move came under fire for not changing the breeds that they use.

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“If Sainsbury’s doesn’t commit to changing the breeds they use, their chickens will still be fast-growing ‘Franken-chickens’,” The Humane League head of programs Cordelia Britton said.

Britton explained that the unnaturally large chicken bred for maximised profit suffer from a range of health and welfare issues such as “lameness, white striping disease, ascites and often premature death.”

“While more space is good, what good is it giving chickens who are immobilised by weight of their own bodies extra space?” Britton added.

“At their young age they are driven to run, jump, and play – imagine the distress and pain of being forced to sit in your own waste instead.”

The League asserts “franken-chickens’ is more than a emotional and moral argument as the RSPCA 2020 study revealed that the welfare of fast-growing breeds was significantly poorer than slower-growing breeds in the same environment.

As a result, The Humane League UK as well as other charities have campaigned for supermarkets to adopt the ‘Better Chicken Commitment’.

The commitment would ban fast-growing breeds and other advocates for other important welfare measures such as space, enrichment and natural light.

Currently, over 200,000 people have signed the petition which have called for ditching fast-growing chickens to improve welfare.

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