Thousands of consumers were educated about the suffering of exploited chickens on our 'Prisoners in their Own Bodies' tour

South of England (October 22-23 and 29-30) - Animal Justice Project [1] will be holding a ‘Prisoners in their Own Bodies’ tour in Oxford, Reading, Swindon and Southampton, as part of their ‘Off the Scales’ campaign [2] to highlight the fast growth of chickens bred and killed for meat sold in UK supermarkets. Chickens on farms suffer heart failure, lung collapse, muscle wastage and bone fractures which commonly cause immobility or even death. Chickens are selectively bred to be over 400% heavier than their 1950s counterparts [3], reaching up to a staggering 4.2kg. Out of the 1,183,000,000 chickens killed for ‘meat’ each year in the UK [4], a million die on farms from untreated illness, disease and injury [5].

The UK government has even been challenged in the High Court over allowing ‘fast-growing’ chickens to suffer [6], with law firm, Advocates for Animals, stating that chicken farming is incompatible with the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007 which specifies that animals be kept “without any detrimental effect on their health or welfare”[7]. Animal Justice Project exposed severe suffering even on ‘RSPCA Assured’, ‘free-range’ farms under their The Foul Truth campaign in 2019 [8], however, and hold the view that birds suffer, regardless of which farming system they’re housed in, or whether they’re ‘fast-growing’ or ‘slow-growing’.

On the tour, campaigners will host an ‘Empathy Challenge’, where consumers will be asked to wear 75kg of weighted apparel to help them understand how difficult it is to move wearing even a fraction of the weight chickens are forced to carry at the ‘slaughter age’ of just 6 weeks [9]. If an average human were to grow at this unnatural rate, they would most likely become bedridden and riddled with painful health conditions. Delicious vegan chicken alternatives will also be handed out to members of the public to demonstrate that they needn't miss out when opting for plant-based alternatives to chicken.

To coincide with the action, Animal Justice Project has launched a high impact YouTube advert [10] and an informative video [11] showing non-vegan consumers the reality behind chicken nuggets and other products. Combined, the organisation says that these have already been viewed over 429,000 times.

Animal Justice Project is also plying pressure on East Lindsey District Council, with over 1,700 supporters sending letters [12] so far urging the council to not grant permission for any further constructions of intensive chicken farms which hold over 40,000 birds [13]. 95% of chickens are housed in similar units nationwide [14]. The Lincolnshire district is considered a hotspot for intensive chicken farms. The organisation says that this campaign comes at an urgent time due to not just extreme animal suffering but also the public health risk it brings, with the intensive farms being breeding grounds for contagious diseases [15] like bird flu [16] [17] , environmental degradation and high levels of water and air pollution [18].

Hope Wetherall, Campaigner for Animal Justice Project, states: “Consumers are largely unaware of the suffering chickens go through before they end up on their plates. Selectively bred to grow so large their bones break under their own weight, many cannot even walk towards food, starving to death at a few weeks old. With billions killed every year to meet a rising demand for ‘white meat’, it’s crucial we educate people about the issues, and empower them to opt for plant-based foods.”

INTERVIEWS / FURTHER INFORMATION:

Ayrton Cooper, Campaigns Manager, Animal Justice Project: +44(0)7512 037157. Email: ayrton@animaljusticeproject.com

REFERENCES

[1] https://www.animaljusticeproject.com

[2] https://www.animaljusticeproject.com/campaigns/off-the-scales

[3]https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/agriculture-in-the-united-kingdom-2021/chapter-8-livestock#poultry-and-poultry-meat

[4] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0032579119385505#tbl1 

[5] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jul/16/a-million-uk-chickens-die-needlessly-each-week-to-keep-prices-low 

[6] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/sep/21/uk-government-court-challenge-legality-frankenchickens 

[7] https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukdsi/2007/9780110773612/schedule/1/paragraph/29

[8] https://www.eurogroupforanimals.org/files/eurogroupforanimals/2020-11/2020_11_19_eurogroup_for_animals_broiler_report.pdf 

[9] https://www.flickr.com/photos/129208916@N02/albums/72157709247017388 

[10] https://youtu.be/MeBHvZ_8zNQ 

[11] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uw-7Hu3-RIo

[12] https://www.animaljusticeproject.com/tft-ipupledge

[13] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/964488/LIT_6530.pdf 

[14] https://www.eating-better.org/uploads/Documents/2020/EB_WeNeedToTalkAboutChicken_Feb20_A4_Final.pdf

[15] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3666729/

[16] https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/news-events/2021-2022-data-show-largest-avian-flu-epidemic-europe-ever

[17] 

https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/environment-and-conservation/2022/09/the-uks-largest-avian-flu-outbreak-has-left-millions-of-birds-dead-and-scientists-extremely-concerned

[18] https://www.e3s-conferences.org/articles/e3sconf/pdf/2021/62/e3sconf_tererd2021_03018.pdf

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