One of the UK’s leading supermarkets has committed to moving its birds to lower stocking density rates. At its annual meeting on 20 May, the Co-op announced that all fresh Co-op chicken would be reared with a reduced maximum stocking density of 30kg/sqm.
It means the birds will have 20% more space and will start to be implemented across the convenience retailer’s supply chain by the second half of next year.
The move follows intense pressure from the animal welfare group, the Humane League, which organised a member-led motion ahead of the annual meeting calling on the retailers to improve chicken welfare.
The motion, signed by 400 Co-op members, called for the supermarket to adopt the Better Chicken Commitment, a welfare policy designed to improve broiler lives.
The Co-op said its move represented a several million pound investment and would reduce the stocking density from the existing 38kg/sqm industry standards. Alongside more space, the chickens will benefit from enrichments such as natural light, perches and pecking objects, allowing the birds to express natural chicken behaviours.
Matt Hood, Co-op managing director, said: “Looking after the animals in our care is a priority for us and ensures we can conveniently provide great quality, 100% British protein that also represents good value which our customers can afford, particularly in these challenging cost of living times.”
Hood added: “I’m pleased this move will make a significant difference to our chicken welfare standards, and whilst I acknowledge delivering animal welfare improvements is an ongoing process, this is a big step in the right direction.”
The retailer’s current free-range chicken is already reared to the lower stocking density while its total chicken offering complies with acknowledged high-level welfare standards on stunning, environment enrichment and other legislation. The supermarket has also committed to publicly reporting on key welfare indicators on an annual basis.