July 19, 2017

Results by Demographic Categories & Regions

Q1. Chickens have been bred to grow larger and more quickly. Studies show sometimes this can lead to organ failure and an inability to stand or walk without pain, especially in the last weeks of their lives. The University of Guelph and animal welfare organizations such as The Humane Society, Mercy For Animals, and Compassion In World Farming are working together to identify breeds of chickens with fewer health problems.

 Do you think that restaurants, grocers and other food companies should require their chicken suppliers to use breeds of chickens identified as having fewer health problems?

 

Q2. Currently, many chicken farms keep the lights dim during the day, and with only a short dark period at night, in order to get birds to grow more quickly. However, studies show this causes higher mortality and health problems in birds. Animal welfare non-profit groups such as The Humane Society, Mercy For Animals, and Compassion In World Farming say that it’s important for the health of the bird that they get at least six hours of darkness each night, and that barns be better lit during the day to at least 50 lux. (A lux is a unit of measurement for light. For comparison, a dark, overcast day measures about 100 lux.)

 Do you think restaurants, grocers and other food companies should require their chicken suppliers to follow the recommended lighting standards of six hours of darkness per night and at least 50 lux during the day?

 

Q3. The number of chickens in a barn is typically in the tens of thousands, with less than one square foot of space provided for each bird. Studies show that birds who are provided more space are healthier, have better welfare, and are less fearful. Animal-welfare organizations such as The Humane Society, Mercy For Animals, and Compassion In World Farming say that the stocking density for chickens should be no more than 30 kilogram per square meter (Kg/m2) to protect the birds’ welfare, which would provide more space per bird than what is currently given.

 

Do you think that restaurants, grocers and other food companies should require their chicken suppliers to limit stocking density to the recommended level of 30 kg/m2?

 

Q4. Having tens of thousands of birds in a barn leads to large quantities of manure/feces, which results in high levels of ammonia and dirty litter. Studies have shown this can cause chickens to develop eye sores and respiratory distress, and can cause burns on their body. To help prevent these problems, animal welfare organizations such as The Humane Society, Mercy For Animals, and Compassion In World Farming say chicken farms should use at least 3 inches of litter, should keep litter clean enough to prevent sores, and should limit ammonia levels to 20 parts per million.

Do you think that restaurants, grocers and other food companies should require their chicken suppliers to follow the recommendation of using 3 inches of litter, keeping litter clean enough to prevent sores, and limiting ammonia levels to 20 parts per million?

 

Q5. Chickens are raised in conditions with only litter, food and water. This environment does not provide birds with opportunities to engage in natural behaviors, such as perching, foraging, and pecking. Animal welfare organizations such as The Humane Society, Mercy For Animals, and Compassion In World Farming say that including enrichments, such as straw bales and objects to peck at, increases activity levels of birds and improves their welfare.

 

Do you think that restaurants, grocers and other food companies should require their chicken suppliers to give enrichments to birds as recommended by animal welfare organizations?

 

Q6. The slaughter process for chickens begins when birds are removed from a truck and hung upside down by their feet. They are then dragged through an electrified vat of water. The birds are then bled out by having their necks slit, and then dunked into a tank of scalding hot water for feather removal. Often birds reach the scalding tank fully conscious. Animal welfare organizations such as The Humane Society, Mercy For Animals, and Compassion In World Farming say that a controlled atmosphere stunning system reduces needless suffering for animals by consistently rendering birds unconscious before they are killed. Some poultry processing companies, such as Cargill, Olymel and Maple Leaf Foods, have already committed to transition to a controlled atmosphere system by 2020.

Do you think that restaurants, grocers and other food companies should require their chicken suppliers to transition to a controlled atmosphere system where birds are rendered unconscious before being killed?

 

Q7. Auditing is a form of oversight in which an independent company visits farms to ensure that animal welfare standards in place by law are being met.  Animal welfare organizations such as The Humane Society, Mercy For Animals, and Compassion In World Farming say independent audits are important for ensuring the rules in place.

Do you think that restaurants, grocers and other food companies should require their chicken suppliers to have third-party audits as a tool to ensure that birds are treated humanely?

 

Q8. Many of the animal welfare improvements for chickens that we have discussed could result in an increase in the per-pound cost of chicken.

Do you think that restaurants, grocers, and other food companies should insist on these welfare improvements in their supply chains?

 

Methodology

These results are from a regionally-representative USA-wide study of 500 online respondents conducted by NRG Research Group. The survey was pre-tested on June 15, 2017 with full fielding continuing immediately after and concluding on June 20, 2017. NRG purchased online panel sample from Research Now, a long-established, reputable research panel provider with an extensive panel list numbering over half a million panelists in the United States. Results were weighted to reflect the actual age and gender distribution in each region.

Since the research is conducted online using panel sample, it is considered to be a non-probability sample and therefore, margins of error are not applicable. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of a survey size of 500 cases with this sample plan would carry a margin of error of approximately +/- 4.4 percent, 19 times out of 20 for the total sample.

Andrew Enns

President