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September 15, 2020 - Humane Society International

Largest-ever study on welfare of chickens raised for meat confirms terrible suffering for billions of 'rapid growth' birds

Largest-ever study on welfare of chickens raised for meat confirms terrible suffering for billions of 'rapid growth' birds
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LONDON—The largest study ever conducted on the welfare of chickens raised for meat confirms that fast-growing breeds, which make up the majority of chickens raised for commercial meat production, suffer immensely. Around the world, a staggering 60 billion chickens are bred for meat, 1.1 billion a year in the United Kingdom alone, and 9 billion in the United States, which is second only to China.

The University of Guelph, Canada, study included 7,500 chickens from 16 different strains and took two years to complete. While previous studies have also indicated that chickens raised for meat are prone to health and welfare problems, this new research demonstrates that, despite recent breeding objectives, selection for rapid growth and breast-meat yield continues to leave conventional chicken strains with significant welfare issues such as reduced mobility, foot pad lesions, muscle damage and disproportionate heart and lung development. Slower growing chickens tested in the same research trial had consistently better health and behavioral outcomes.

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