Chicken Comparison
This is a modern chicken.
This is what chickens used to look like.
Most chickens who end up on people’s dinner plates today grow so huge, so fast, that they can barely stand up. Many collapse under their own weight and spend much of their lives lying in their own waste, with open sores and wounds.
With better breeding and better living conditions, chickens are typically healthier, suffer less, and may be less likely to transmit foodborne illnesses.

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Largely because of selective breeding for their breast meat, most of today’s chickens have such disproportionate bodies that they can barely stand up. Raised in cramped, unhealthy and unnatural conditions, their short lives are often full of suffering and sickness.

No animal should be bred to suffer, and consumers should have higher-welfare options at their stores. It’s time for the industry to stop ignoring both the welfare of chickens and the values of consumers. Chickens deserve better, and so do we!

Modern chickens are commonly packed into dank sheds with little room to move, and many spend their lives lying in their own waste, struggling to walk.

Industrial breeding leads them to grow in just a few weeks to unnatural proportions that their bodies often can’t support.

We call on the chicken industry to improve chickens’ living conditions, and to switch to chickens with more balanced growth.

It’s time for companies to stop cutting corners and putting profits over welfare. 

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In 1925, it took 16 weeks to raise a chicken to 2.5 pounds. Today, chickens weigh double that in just six weeks!

Photo courtesy Wakker Dier

Many birds cannot support their own weight. Unable to stand or walk, they can die of dehydration or hunger just inches from food and water.

United States, 2014

According to the University of Arkansas, if humans grew at a similar rate, a 6.6-pound newborn baby would weigh 660 pounds after two months.  

Photo courtesy Wakker Dier

Many chickens lie in their own waste for much of their lives, with open sores and infections. These unhealthy conditions could potentially increase the risk of foodborne illnesses like salmonella.

United States, 2014

A 2010 Consumer Reports analysis of fresh, whole chicken bought at stores nationwide found that two-thirds harbored salmonella and/or campylobacter, the leading bacterial causes of foodborne disease.

Photo courtesy Hillside Animal Sanctuary

Latest Updates

Vox: “Chickens have gotten ridiculously large since the 1950s”

New Survey: Humane treatment of chickens raised for meat is more than just a moral imperative

New Investigation: Live Chickens on Factory Farm Buried with the Dead; Living in Filth

Want to Know More?

Thanks to a horrific combination of selective breeding and rearing practices, most of today’s chickens are growing at a rate three times faster than 60 years ago! As one farmer put it, “we’ve successfully bred most of the chicken out of the chicken.”

Why is that bad? The rapid and unnatural growth rate of these chickens strains their hearts, lungs and bones. Unable to support their massive bodies, many cannot stand, and spend much of their lives lying in their own waste with open sores and infections. Look at what’s ending up on dinner plates.

More balanced breeds with more room to move, better lighting, and a healthier environment can be safer for consumers as well—and recent studies have shown 7 in 10 consumers would pay more for birds raised with higher welfare. Learn about the alternatives here.

Got questions? Check out our FAQ, and learn more about this issue in the ASCPA’s new whitepaper, “A Growing Problem.”

Then join the fight for higher welfare chickens by signing the petition today, and please spread the word.