Australians consume an average of 45kg of chicken meat a year. This may come from chickens, or broilers, raised indoors in barren sheds. Meat chickens have been bred to produce large breast muscle and will grow to slaughter weight in 35 days. This rapid growth may result in birds becoming so heavy they suffer from leg disorders, joint problems and heart failure.
You can help meat chickens in Australia by purchasing higher welfare at the supermarket. Look out for RSPCA Approved chicken.
In conventional systems, lack of space results in lack of exercise, which increases the incidence of lameness. This increases the birds’ contact with the litter, causing foot pad burn, hock burn and breast blisters if the litter is not well managed.
Chickens on these farms may be kept in dim light for 23 hours a day to discourage movement and increase food intake. The majority of these chickens live in barren environments with no possibility for behavioural stimulation. The low space allowance, inadequate lighting and barren environments can lead to serious welfare issues, even death.
The RSPCA wants consumers to easily identify and access humanely farmed food when shopping and encourages consumers to ask for RSPCA Approved. If shopping for chicken, look for RSPCA Approved chicken.
What happens on an RSPCA Approved meat chicken farm?
Welfare problems can be prevented by providing an environment that meets the chicken’s physical and behavioural needs.