RSPCA warns of issues as region’s chicken consumption shows growth

PUBLISHED: 14:00 10 May 2020


Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) has released a warning about the region consuming chicken meat “more than ever” impacting on the animals’ welfare, as well as the meat’s quality.

The charity says the East of England is now eating six per cent more chicken meat than 10 years ago - and that the trend is partly caused by people cutting down on red meat because of health concerns.

RSPCA says cheap chicken meat may not be as lean and healthy as people think, because fast-growing chickens are almost eight times more likely to have fat deposits in the breast and have poor quality meat.

Moreover, they say many birds reared for cheap meat have a life ‘not worth living’. Independent research commissioned by the charity shows that of the one billion chickens raised every year for meat production in the UK, many suffer from serious health and welfare problems.

The study compared fast-growing breeds with slower-growing ones – and revealed birds can reach slaughter weight in just over a month. Fast-growing breeds were found to be twice as likely to die or be culled because of ill health, and four times more likely to suffer sores to their legs from resting on litter because of inactivity.

Kate Parkes, RSPCA chicken welfare specialist, said: “As consumption of chicken grows, many aren’t aware of the suffering endured by fast-growing breeds which produce most of the meat that ends up on our plates.

“These conventional breeds, which account for most of the world’s meat chicken, are far more likely to experience serious suffering from health issues.”

She added: “People are eating more chicken because they think it’s a healthy option, but I think they would be horrified by the suffering these birds endure by being born into bodies which simply grow too fast.

“About a billion birds being reared in the UK every year, and we need to tackle the problem quickly, as the market for chicken is growing and growing.”

The study is the first in the UK to compare fast-growing birds with slower-growing ones, and concluded the genetics of the former significantly impair their lives.

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