Perdue Farm, one of the leading poultry companies in U.S. has announced plans Monday to ease both, the life and death to its chickens.
Animal welfare groups are cheering for these changes which are a break with modern standard practices in the poultry industry.
The chairman of Perdue Farms, Jim Perdue, states that there was a simple motivation for the company’s new initiative. Their consumers wanted to be sure the chickens are raised with the least discomfort and stress, in the most caring way as possible.
Therefore, this industry is under pressure. There were many videos released by the animal rights groups showing horrible conditions of chickens inside the poultry houses, some of them being with breasts dragging on the floor and some with broken legs.
Perdue Farms has invited an animal rights group called the “Humane Society of the United States” inside his company about a year ago. He wanted the group to pay a visit and see the condition of their chickens, and of course to give its critique.
The senior food policy director at the Humane Society, Josh Balk, reported that Perdue Farms recognized some of the problems in terms of the poor treatment of chickens in this industry.
Inside the corporate headquarters at this company the attitudes were shifting because of their decision to acquire an organic chicken producer, Coleman Natural, in 2011.
The senior vice president of Perdue and veterinarian, Bruce Stewart-Brown, stated that Perdue Farms has begun appreciating some of the benefits of organic production techniques. He reported for The Salt that the chickens from those chicken houses are much more active, and you simply enjoy being there. And, he thought why not implementing some of these methods to the rest of their chickens.
The initiative in the poultry industry to another initiative concerned on animal welfare, which is referred to as the “precedent-setting” by Josh from the Humane Society.
One part is concerned with chickens and turkeys slaughtering. Right now, upon arrival at a poultry processing plant, chickens are hung upside down in moving shackles. Then, their heads are submerged into a water bath which includes electrical current. This stuns the chickens and makes them unconscious before being slaughtered.
Balk explains that his company is promising to exclude the shackles, and to make chickens unconscious using gas, as it is way less brutal way of killing them. Further plans of Perdue Farm include adding windows to the poultry houses to obtain natural light as well as perches for their chickens. The goal is to encourage the birds to be more active.
Moreover, the company asserts that it will at least study the notion of getting chicken breeds that grow a little more slowly. This would enable chickens to support their weight a bit better and to walk without putting too much effort. There was a recent announcement by Whole Foods that it will shift to selling chicken breeds that grow slower.
However, this is a risky consideration according to Bruce Stewart-Brown, as the slower growth rates are more expensive. These chickens need more food which means more money. His hopes are that research will permit Perdue Farm to minimize the additional expenses.
Furthermore, they believe that the increased sales will outweigh any additional costs. As Jim Perdue explains, the company’s antibiotic-reduction initiative and the whole experience form it has encouraged him to believe that Perdue Farm will be perfectly fine as long as they stay in tune with their consumers.