Perdue Farms, one of America’s largest industrial poultry producers, unveiled a plan in June designed to “accelerate its progress in poultry care.” Perdue claims that the plan, to be implemented over the next several years, is based on the “Five Freedoms”—an internationally recognized benchmark for animal husbandry. According to the New York Times, it will hold Perdue’s contract farmers (who, under serf-like agreements, raised 676 million chickens for the company last year) to standards similar to those in Europe.
The plan covers several important aspects of birds’ lives. Among its stated goals are an increase in living space per bird, perches and other enrichment, and windows in poultry housing (after Perdue specifically decreed that there be no windows previously). Perdue may also modify breeding so as to reduce the leg injuries and other ailments inherent in birds bred to grow quickly and to freakish size. In addition, prior to slaughter, chickens are to be stunned with gas. Perdue has not set specific standards for several of its goals, however, and will not do so until the company conducts further research.