At the Bottom of the Pecking Order

Image taken on New Zealand factory farms where chickens are reared for meat by Farmwatch

The World Animal Protection organisation has released its 2021 Pecking Order report, its third assessment of global fast-food brands on chicken welfare performance.

The report also provides eight iconic fast-food brands with a framework to measure and manage chicken welfare performance worldwide and is the only tool of its kind available in the world.

The 2021 results are shocking and revealed:

  • KFC refuses to commit to improving chicken welfare in New Zealand as we fall further behind the UK and other parts of Europe
  • Burger King, KFC, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, Domino’s and Subway rank lowest in New Zealand
  • All chicken meat served at these fast-food restaurants comes from chickens bred to grow unnaturally fast, with poorer welfare outcomes. Most live in cramped and barren environments with no sunlight, often suffering from lameness and skin lesions
  • Not only are these chickens suffering – human health is being jeopardised as a result of antibiotic overuse, fuelling a deadly superbug crisis

Image taken on New Zealand factory farms where chickens are reared for meat by Farmwatch

“Big brand restaurants like KFC are denying billions of chickens the chance to see sunlight, grow at a healthy rate or behave naturally, serving up cruelty and fuelling a deadly superbug crisis. If we’ve learned anything from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that we must accept that human health is intrinsically linked to the health of animals and the natural world. We cannot go back to business as usual,” expressed Jonty Whittleton, Global Campaign Head at World Animal Protection.

“It’s highly disappointing that KFC New Zealand is refusing to step up to the plate, like many of its European counterparts have done, leaving New Zealand to lag behind on chicken welfare. If KFC in the UK and six countries in Europe can commit to this, why can’t KFC in New Zealand?

As more people take an active interest in the ethics of their food, more companies are taking action on animal welfare. Companies must align with changing consumer behaviour and commit to global policy changes now, or risk getting left behind.”

Animals Aotearoa is a newly established New Zealand based charity, primarily focused on chickens, they are currently running a corporate campaign for better welfare for chickens in Aotearoa.

“New Zealand trades on an image of high animal welfare, but World Animal Protection’s damning report shows, yet again, how false those claims really are,” noted Animals Aotearoa Executive Director, Marianne Macdonald.

“Kiwis expect high standards for their animals. It is unacceptable to see that our major fast-food chains are failing chickens. It’s time for them to step up and commit to slower-growing breeds and other welfare improvements.”

You can learn more and sign Animals Aotearoa's call for action here.

World Animal Protection is asking the food industry to commit to global policy changes that will improve the welfare of billions of chickens. Companies are expected to:

  1. Use chicken breeds that grow at a healthier rate. The current fast-growing breeds mean chickens grow to their full size in an average of just six weeks. This accelerated growth rate, combined with low light levels and insufficient space to move, leads to serious health problems including heart and lung failure, muscle weakness and lameness.
  2. Ensure that chickens have the space to behave more naturally
  3. Give chickens the opportunity to enjoy natural behaviours via enrichment – including perches or platforms and pecking objects – natural lighting and high-quality bedding.

You can view the entire report here.