United Poultry Concerns 13 August 2002
Please write to the National Chicken Council Today!

The National Chicken Council, which represents the "broiler" chicken industry in the U.S., is refusing to provide animal welfare standards to the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), which represents the supermarket industry, and the National Council of Chain Restaurants (NCCR) which represents the fast-food industry. PLEASE WRITE TO THE NATIONAL CHICKEN COUNCIL TODAY AND ASK WHY THEY HAVE REFUSED TO COME UP WITH MEANINGFUL WELFARE REFORMS to help reduce the suffering of broiler chickens (the baby birds who represent 98% of animals slaughtered for food in the U.S).

At a minimum, they need to stop breeding birds for fast growth (which causes painful lameness and heart attacks), give the birds adequate space to move about comfortably, and give the birds something to do, such as green cabbages to peck at. Please let the National Chicken Council know that we know they are blocking animal welfare reform and we will take steps to alert the public. Please put pressure on the National Chicken Council. (See UPC's letter below for more detail.)

Thank You!

CONTACT: George Watts, President
National Chicken Council
1015 15th Street, NW, Suite 930
Washington DC 20005-2605
Ph: 202-296-2622
Fax: 202-293-4005
Email: (Richard Lobb)

Below: Letter to the National Chicken Council from United Poultry Concerns

Karen Davis, PhD, President
United Poultry Concerns, Inc.
PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405
Phone: 757-678-7875
Fax: 757-678-5070

George Watts, President
National Chicken Council
1015 15th Street, NW, Suite 930
Washington, DC 20005-2605

Dear Mr. Watts:

We understand that the National Chicken Council is refusing to provide the Food Marketing Institute and the National Council of Chain Restaurants (FMI/NCCR) with welfare guidelines that would reduce the suffering of young chickens and parent flocks in your industry. We urge you to write guidelines including the following recommendations without further delay.

1. Ammonia Levels. Concentration of excretory ammonia gases should not exceed 10 ppm at bird level. Ammonia gases exceeding this concentration compromise birds' immune function and make them susceptible to respiratory diseases and other infections, including painful breast blisters as a result of sitting in ammonia-saturated litter.

2. Forced Rapid Growth of broiler chickens should be stopped. This includes genetic manipulation for fast growth characteristics, and management and dietary promotion of abnormal growth rate. Baby ("broiler") chickens should not be kept under constant lighting or be manipulated to eat when they are full. Broiler chickens suffer from well-documented metabolic and skeletal problems as a result of growing 3 to 4 times faster than normal chickens. Tibial dyschondroplasia has risen from 1.2 percent to 49 percent in modern broiler chickens. Birds suffer from painful lameness and abnormal gaits. Given a choice in scientific studies, broiler chickens chose foods laced with painkillers. Mortality of broiler chickens is said to be 7 times that of laying hens of similar age, and at least 2 percent of broiler chickens die of heart failure, comprising millions of birds each year. Growth potential in these birds has been exceeded at the expense of welfare, and it's time to stop.

3. Space Allowance per Bird. The amount of space per bird should be doubled so that broiler chickens have at least 1.5 square feet of space per bird at 5 to 7 weeks old (preferably 2 square feet), and parent flocks should have at least four square feet of space per bird. The birds need exercise and space for their health and well-being.

4. Partitions and Perches. Chicken houses should be partitioned into units holding 80 100 birds each, with areas set apart for refuge and rest. Space per unit should be between 200 and 300 square feet (between 19 and 28 square meters). Chickens need refuges, as well, to correspond to the shelter of the mother hen's wings and the shady areas to which they would normally retreat intermittently during the day in a normal outdoor environment. Broiler chickens and parent flocks should be given perches to help strengthen and maintain their feet and legs and to enable them to satisfy their need to perch and get off the floor, thereby reducing the severe stress they are under in the barren environment of the chicken houses.

5. Activity to Relieve Stress and Boredom. Chickens should be given materials and objects to peck at, to occupy their time and encourage natural pecking behavior. Materials and objects to peck at would reduce the documented aggression of male birds in the broiler breeder houses, including pecking at other birds' heads, which has also been observed in the broiler houses. Birds would benefit from green cabbages to peck at, which provide activity and nutrients without adding fat. Birds need clean dustbathing material in order to practice hygiene, occupy their time, and encourage normal beak-related behaviors and social activity.

6. Mechanical Catching. Mechanized harvesters should be encouraged and manual catching should be discouraged, to reduce injuries and bruises in these extremely fragile birds. Perdue Farms reports significantly reduced bruising among birds caught with mechanized harvesters, and other studies report fewer broken bones and less bruising when mechanical catching is used.

7. Gas Stunning. Gas stunning should replace electrical immobilization of birds. The current method of immobilizing birds, as opposed to stunning them (rendering them permanently pain-free and unconscious), should be prohibited. Electrically induced paralysis is completely cruel and inhumane. Drs. Mohan Raj, Ian Duncan, and others urge that from a science-based welfare standpoint, birds should be gas/killed in the transport crates, prior to shackling, with a composition of 60 - 90 percent argon and no more than 2 percent oxygen.

These are the minimum welfare recommendations that United Poultry Concerns is urging The National Chicken Council to adopt and promote on an industry-wide basis and to recommend to the FMI/NCCR without further delay. I am enclosing a copy of our 2002 report on Poultry Slaughter: The Need for Legislation and Elimination of Electrical Immobilization. I look forward to your earliest possible response.

Thank you for your attention.

Karen Davis, PhD
Phone: 757-678-7875

References are available on request.

C: Richard Lobb (
John Tyson, Tyson Foods
Robert Turley, Perdue Farms
Dr. Steven Gross, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
Bruce Friedrich, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

United Poultry Concerns is a nonprofit organization that promotes the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl. For more information visit

United Poultry Concerns. 13 August 2002

United Poultry Concerns, Inc.
PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405-0150
FAX: 757-678-5070

(Action Alert - Please write to the National Chicken Council Today! )

Home | What's New? | News Releases | Action Alerts | PoultryPress | Resources | Merchandise | Links | E-mail