Media release: SPCA and Animals Aotearoa launch chicken standards that raise the bar for NZ food businesses

New Zealand consumers will be able to look forward to higher welfare chicken products available with today’s launch of the Australia-New Zealand Better Chicken Commitment. 

This commitment has been developed by the New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), Animals Aotearoa and The Humane League, and is also supported by nine national and global animal welfare organisations including Compassion in World Farming and World Animal Protection.

The Better Chicken Commitment is a set of welfare standards that bans the use of abnormally fast-growing breeds that are killed at just six weeks old, in favour of healthier breeds that grow more naturally, as well as providing more space for chickens, natural light, enrichments, and less suffering at slaughter. 

“Currently we only have abnormal fast-growing breeds being farmed in New Zealand to the tune of 120 million individuals a year to fill our plates. Using these unnatural breeds means millions of chickens are living in chronic pain, some suffering organ failure just weeks after they are hatched. Caring Kiwis deserve to know what they are being sold and what they’re paying for,” says Animals Aotearoa Executive Director, Marianne Macdonald.

“New Zealanders care about the welfare of farmed animals and expect food companies to do the same. More than ever, people are rejecting cage eggs and choosing free-range meat. The Better Chicken Commitment gives consumers the choice to purchase higher welfare chicken meat, and food businesses the opportunity to meet the expectations of their customers,” says Macdonald.

SPCA’s scientific officer for farmed animals, Marie McAninch, says the quality of life for the meat chicken breeds in New Zealand deteriorates quickly because of the speed of their growth. 

“Meat chickens often suffer from painful conditions such as lameness and cardiovascular problems,” says McAninch. “Their painful health conditions are usually a direct result of their breed and growth speed, so SPCA strongly advocates for the introduction of slower-growing, healthier breeds of chicken into New Zealand.” 

“Hundreds of companies have made similar commitments overseas including Subway, HelloFresh, Pita Pit and KFC. Last year, Domino’s became the first in Aotearoa to sign the European version of the Better Chicken Commitment. Other food businesses who claim they care about chicken welfare should be using brands that are moving towards healthier chicken breeds and improved farming conditions,” says Macdonald.

List of organisations that have signed the Australia-New Zealand Better Chicken Commitment:

  • Anima International
  • Animal Equality
  • Animals Aotearoa
  • Animals Australia
  • Compassion in World Farming
  • Eurogroup for Animals
  • Mercy For Animals
  • Sinergia Animal
  • Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals New Zealand
  • The Humane League
  • Veterinarians for Animal Welfare Aotearoa
  • World Animal Protection.

Animals Aoteaora

Animals Aotearoa is a registered charity, whose mission is to end the suffering of farmed animals. They currently focus on improving the lives of chickens bred for meat, by securing welfare commitments from food businesses and raising public awareness of the suffering caused by the way chickens are bred and farmed.


SPCA is the preeminent animal welfare and advocacy organisation in New Zealand. The Society has been in existence for 150 years with a supporter base representing many tens of thousands of New Zealanders across the nation. With 32 Centres nationwide, they are the country’s biggest animal charity. Their mission is to improve the welfare of all animals in New Zealand.

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