Meet Chicken Farmers Who Put the “Well” in Animal Welfare
No matter where America’s broiler chicken farmers are located, they’re united by the fact that their hearts are rooted in deeply caring for their birds. The National Chicken Council maintains and regularly updates its Broiler Welfare Guidelines which are certified by a third party auditing organization and widely adopted by the industry.
The U.S. chicken industry has also coined a set of animal welfare standards known as The Chicken Guarantees, which actually double as consumer guarantees as well. That means whenever you purchase or eat chicken, you can be confident knowing the chicken is:
- Raised cage-free
- Free of added hormones and steroids
- Monitored by licensed veterinarians
- Raised by farmers trained in animal welfare
But many broiler farmers go far above and beyond these foundational animal welfare guidelines. Hear chicken producers from across the country share their perspectives on what animal welfare means to them—and what they wish all consumers knew.
Terry Baker, Delaware
“It is important to remember there are stringent laws set down by federal and state governments that protect how farm animals are handled and cared for. Yet these laws represent a baseline as far as the most caring farmers and ranchers are concerned. Many producers commit to going over and above what lawmakers demand, and quite rightly. Animals raised in a caring farm environment are never short of food, water, proper shelter, safety, comfort and adequate veterinary care.
When animals are raised for consumption by humans, there will always come a day when it’s necessary for them to enter the last stage of the food chain. Some welfare groups would have you believe this is an inhumane process, but in truth, it’s very carefully designed and managed to cause the least possible amount of distress. The animal suffers far less distress than they would if they existed in the wild, where they would be far more likely to endure an unpleasant death caused by lingering illness, disease or animal predation.”
Jennell Eck, Maryland
“I love that my family raises healthy birds for the public to purchase affordable chicken and feed their family. I wish people understood the amount of work that goes into raising each chicken. Farmers spend a lot of time raising their birds by ensuring the houses are maintained and that the birds have the proper amount of food and water, a comfortable and healthy environment, good ventilation and so much more. We care a lot about the flock – it’s our livelihood, and it’s the right thing to do.”
Tim and Deena Morrison, Kentucky
“Farmers want to treat their animals well. The better the chickens are treated, the better they produce. One year, an ice storm hit our area and we were without power for 16 days. Our chickens had a generator so they had heat, food and water while the power was out.”
Ryan and Rachel Rhodes, Maryland
“Most people are 4 generations removed from the family farm, so information about agriculture and animal agriculture is gleaned from social media and the internet. This means that 98% of the population dictates acceptable standards and protocols about animal welfare and policies when they have no direct involvement in growing food or raising animals. Not coming from an animal agriculture background like my husband, I didn’t fully grasp these issues until I was immersed in them.
Watching our freshly hatched chicks arrive, caring for them, making sure that they have enough food and water, and that they have the perfect environment to grow and thrive so that we can provide healthy affordable food for the consumer is our top priority as farmers. The health of our birds is just as important as the health of our children because our birds are just like our children. When our children aren’t feeling well, I make a little “treatment sheet,” when they receive medication, how much they are given, etc. The same goes for our birds. These practices ensure that we’re proactively meeting the well-being of our birds by providing them with the care and commitment that we would give our own family.”
Daniel Hayden, Kentucky
“I would just like more people to understand what actually goes into raising the chicken they eat. The care the chickens are given is second to none in any other way a chicken can live. Farming is composed completely of passion, we put our hearts and souls in what we do and people need to experience just a taste of that passion.”
Have more questions about how chicken farmers care for their flocks? Discover how the U.S. chicken industry puts science and soul into all animal welfare practices, from growth rates to housing and processing.