Applegate Aims to Boost Welfare For Broiler Chickens
Natural and organic meat brand Applegate has pledged to elevate and third-party verify by 2024 its standards for broiler chickens to be consistent with the Global Animal Partnership (GAP).
These changes will require the Bridgewater, N.J.-based subsidiary of Hormel Foods to, among other things, use broiler chicken breeds that are scientifically proven to have improved welfare outcomes.
"Animal welfare is an evolving field, and we are continuously searching for ways to improve the lives of all the animals raised for Applegate to fulfill our mission – 'Changing The Meat We Eat,’" said Steve Lykken, president of Applegate. "We applaud GAP for addressing broiler chicken welfare issues and look forward to working with them and other organizations, as well as farmers and suppliers, to ensure that new standards provide the best life possible for broiler chickens."
Applegate already third-party verifies animal-welfare standards for its entire poultry supply (broilers and turkeys) and requires reduced stocking densities, lighting management programs and environmental enrichments from its broiler suppliers.
By 2024, Applegate will improve its requirements by:
- Using broiler breeds scientifically proven to have markedly improved welfare outcomes.
- Providing chickens with more space (maximum stocking density of 6 pounds per square foot) and improved environments, including lighting, litter and enrichments.
- Eliminating live shackling and dumping and ensuring birds are rendered unconscious through a multi-step controlled atmospheric stunning, which is universally considered more humane, prior to slaughter.
"The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals applauds Applegate for its commitment to further improve the wellbeing of chickens in its supply chain," said Nancy Roulston, director of corporate engagement, ASPCA Farm Animal Welfare Program. "Applegate is the first retail brand to address broiler chickens' welfare to this extent at every stage of life, and we hope other brands will follow its lead in pursuing the continuous improvement and transparency in welfare standards that animals deserve and welfare-conscious consumers demand."
"Applegate has been a leading voice in developing a better and more humane meat production system in the United States," said Lykken. "Applegate blazed a trail in creating demand for meat raised without antibiotics, which others now emulate, and we hope to do the same for the critical issues involving higher animal welfare. More humane treatment of animals should be the rule, not the exception."