​​Overseas wins for chickens show the way forward

White slower-growing, healthier breed of chicken.
Image credit – Wakker Dier

Chickens are naturally curious and active birds. They enjoy exploring their environment by pecking at objects and scratching at the ground, interacting with new objects, and keeping their skin healthy with regular dust baths. They feel more comfortable sleeping perched off the ground.

Sadly, the conditions on industrial chicken farms deny them these behaviours. This urgently needs to change.

The good news is that chickens are starting to be given much better lives in many countries overseas.

The Better Chicken Commitment is a set of world-leading standards, backed by Animals Aotearoa and more than 30 other animal advocacy organisations around the world, that have been set up to give chickens lives worth living. Companies who adopt these standards, move to using slower-growing, stronger and healthier breeds of chicken. They also give the birds more space to move around, bright, natural light, and enrichments (perches and objects to interact with). 

White chicken pecking on a maize husk
Image credit – RSPCA UK: RSPCA Assured

​There are more than 400 company commitments to these much better standards for what the industry calls ‘broiler’ chickens. The momentum is only getting faster, with more and more companies doing the right thing. These commitments are already significantly improving the lives of hundreds of millions of chickens.

But what about here in Aotearoa? We are also working to encourage food businesses to sign up to the Better Chicken Commitment. The first food business, Domino’s, has already signed up to the Better Chicken Commitment. Now it’s time for others in the food sector to do the same.  While it will take time to get slower-growing, healthier chickens commercially available in Aotearoa, this is the most pressing change needed.

Update: As of August 2023, eight companies have signed the BCC in New Zealand including Meal Kits HelloFresh and My Food Bag and coffee chains Columbus Coffee and The Coffee Club.

The Better Chicken Commitment is the key to these birds having lives worth living.

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