What is better chicken?

Do you buy chicken and care about animal welfare?

If so, there’s lots you need to know about how chickens are reared which will help you make more informed choices when you’re shopping, eating out or grabbing your favourite take-away.

Plus, whether you eat meat or not, we’d like to tell you about Better Chicken, why it’s so important, and how you can support it.

You can also find out more about the Better Chicken Commitment and discover which food companies have made the pledge to introduce higher welfare standards for all chickens reared for meat. 

And once you know why Better Chicken matters, maybe you can share it with your family and friends.

You have the power to give chickens a better life by choosing higher welfare if you buy chicken.


Making life better for millions – actually, billions – of chickens


Better Chicken is chicken that comes from higher welfare farms, where the birds are healthier, slower growing breeds that have the opportunity to lead happier lives doing what's natural to them like perching, pecking, scratching and playing.

But it’s not just the chickens that benefit – it is good for you and for the environment too!

Better for the chickens

Better for the chickens

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The Problem

Broiler chickens crammed together indoors

Chickens raised for meat are the most farmed land animal in the world. Over 6 billion are reared in Europe every year, with over 70% crammed into barren sheds on factory farms – often with no natural light, a lack of stimulating materials and only litter on the floor.

Factory-farmed chickens are bred to grow unnaturally fast and are sent to slaughter as early as 33 days old, so they don’t even reach adulthood in their lifetime.

Trapped in unhealthy, oversized, painful bodies, many chickens live much of their very short lives unable to move, exhausted, and often become lame. Some suffer with serious heart conditions or collapse under their own weight.

Chickens can feel emotions just like us, such as pain and fear, and they suffer in these harsh conditions. Is this fair?

The Solution

two chickens standing on a hay bail in an indoor higher welfare farm

There is a more humane and sustainable way to rear chickens, which is why Compassion in World Farming wants all chickens to lead better lives – reared in higher welfare systems.

Chickens are healthier, happier and more active when they are bred to grow more slowly and have the space and stimulation they need to behave like, well, chickens. Slower-growing chickens can walk more easily, have stronger hearts and better resistance to disease.

Chickens from slower-growing breeds are more likely to be active. When they are also given more space to live and things to investigate, they can do what comes naturally: pecking, scratching, wing flapping and perching. The birds have the opportunity to experience some of the joys of life.

In the best systems chickens have separate places to rest, feed, drink and play – and can go outside for fresh air and sunlight.

Better for you

Better for you

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The Problem

Standard, low-welfare chicken production, with its oversized animals and poor living conditions, not only creates health hazards for the chickens, but for us too.

Lame chicken

The speed of the chickens' growth and their high body weight can cause their muscles to degenerate which leads to lower quality, less nutritious meat.

Antibiotics are routinely given to the chickens to help them survive in these poor welfare systems (when they should only be given to sick animals). Routine use of antibiotics increases the risk of antibiotic- resistant bacteria which is an increasing threat for humans.

The conditions the chickens live in, and their compromised immune systems, allow dangerous bacteria to flourish – leading to increased risk of food poisoning.


The Solution

Two chickens on a hay bail in an indoor higher welfare farm

Slower-growing chickens reared in higher welfare systems have been shown to have stronger immune systems. This dramatically reduces the need for antibiotics and fewer of them are infected with harmful bacteria.

Higher welfare production also addresses the muscle degeneration seen in fast-growing birds, improving the quality and nutritional value of the meat. Meat from slower-growing chickens contains less fat, higher proportions of omega-3 fatty acids and more Vitamin E and iron.  

Better for the planet

Better for the planet

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The Problem

The biggest cause of animal suffering on the planet is factory farming. It’s also helping to drive the worst climate, nature and health catastrophes humanity has ever faced. 

Stressed Broiler chickens in an intensive farm

More than two-thirds of the 80 billion animals farmed for food every year are caged, crammed and confined in ways that cause immense suffering. It is also increasing greenhouse gas emissions and destroying wildlife habitats.


The Solution

Collage of fruits vegetables and legumes

We all need to adopt diets that rely less on industrial farming - supporting fairer, healthier, more planet-friendly food.

By eating fewer animal products (and choosing higher welfare options), wasting less, and by introducing more fruits, vegetables and pulses into our diet, we can help take the pressure off the invaluable resources of our planet – and save some money too!

Making small changes to our diets each day can make a huge difference in supporting a better food system now - and for future generations to come. 

What can you do to support better chicken?

If you buy chicken, carefully check the label to see what kind of life the bird has had - use our Chick-O-Meter to understand what the labels mean for the chickens.

Red Tractor Enhanced Welfare logo
RSPCA Assured.jpg

It’s important to look out for recognised higher welfare logos or schemes such as RSPCA Assured or Red Tractor Enhanced Welfare (not standard Red Tractor).

Phrases such as ‘trusted farms’, ‘trusted farmers’, ‘butcher’s choice’ or ‘reared with care’ do not have a legal definition you can rely on.

If you can’t see any of the labels in store, ask the store manager what welfare standards their chickens are reared to and always CHOOSE BETTER!

Chickometer PDF Leaflet Front Cover image

You can download our handy Chick-O-Meter leaflet and take this with you when you're shopping!




You can also support companies that have pledged to introduce BETTER CHICKEN welfare through the Better Chicken Commitment. 

If you choose plant power and opt for more plant-based foods, this will help to reduce the demand for chicken which fuels the most intensive, low-welfare farming systems - as well as being good for your health and the environment too!

5 facts about chickens - how much do you know?

  1. Chickens are the closest living relative of the Tyrannosaurus Rex
    unlike the mighty T-Rex, known for its strength, many chickens reared for meat are bred to grow so big so fast that their legs cannot support their weight. This accelerated growth weakens their immune systems and results in conditions such as heart defects, organ failure and muscle diseases.

  2. Chickens can live to be 7 or 8 years old - the oldest recorded chicken was 16!
    in standard production systems chickens can be slaughtered as early as 30 days - merely one month from birth.

  3. Chickens are intelligent - they can count, use geometry and remember 100 different faces!
    BUT in conventional production systems, chickens rarely see the light of day, living in dimly lit barns with nothing to do. This lack of enrichment leaves them bored and disengaged.

  4. Chickens can run up to 9 miles per hour and love to flap their wings
    BUT in typical production systems, chickens endure their entire lives in overcrowded sheds where they are packed closely together, consistently vying for space, and unable to perch, peck, or engage in natural playful behaviours.

  5. Chickens are sentient beings, they can feel fear, distress and pain
    BUT in standard slaughterhouses, they undergo a terrifying process where they are suspended upside down by their feet in shackles before being subjected to an electrified water bath which is not always effective in stunning them before slaughter.
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