Around 90% of UK chickens are reared for meat in standard intensive systems. This chicken is usually the cheapest on the supermarket shelf and the meat found in most sandwiches and restaurant meals.
These chickens are farmed in barren and crowded sheds with no outdoor access, no natural daylight and little room to move freely.
These birds have been selectively bred to reach slaughter weight in around six weeks, these unnaturally fast growth rates result in millions of chickens suffering from painful leg disorders, breathing disabilities, ammonia burns and dying of lung or heart failure.
Through the Chicken Out! campaign, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Compassion in World Farming are reaching out to consumers, politicians, producers and retailers to put an end to the intensive ‘factory’ farming of chickens.
Chicken Out! is changing the way we shop
More and more consumers are voting with their basket and choosing chicken meat from higher welfare systems. When you’re shopping for chicken, always look for chicken labelled free-range, organic, RSPCA Freedom Food or higher welfare indoor.
Chicken Out! wants clear and honest labelling
Labelling can be very misleading and phrases such as ‘farm fresh’ and ‘farm assured’ do not always represent higher welfare systems.
Unless the label states free-range, organic or RSPCA Freedom Food, the chicken you’re buying has probably been reared in intensive conditions.
We want clear information on the packaging of the chicken meat so you can make the best, informed choice.
Chicken Out! is reaching the government
We want the government to take the welfare of chickens seriously by introducing legislation that meets the behavioural needs of the millions of chickens.
Over 270 MPs recently signed a Parliamentary motion calling for improved welfare standards and clear labelling of chicken meat.
"I launched the national Chicken Out! campaign because I feel so strongly about the welfare of our chickens," said Hugh.
"My River Cottage TV series on Channel 4 has highlighted the unacceptable conditions in which most table birds are reared and I’m putting pressure on the UK industry to raise their standards," he added.
Chicken Out! supports the Better Chicken Commitment
Currently, over 95% of meat chickens are raised on standard, intensive farms. That's nearly one billion birds. They are bred to grow extremely fast, leading to painful health problems, and live in cramped sheds among thousands of other birds. While we'd prefer all animals to be reared in free-range systems, using slow-growing breeds like we do, we recognise that widespread change sometimes has to happen in small steps.
That's why we support the Better Chicken Commitment (BCC), a set of criteria agreed upon by leading animal protection organisations. This criteria addresses the major issues encountered in standard chicken production, such as the breed, overcrowding, and lack of enrichment. An increasing number of food companies are committing to the BCC, and we encourage others to follow suit. To support the BCC, you can take action with The Humane League UK at www.oneinabillioncampaign.com.
Find out more about some of Hugh's campaigns.