82% of caged broilers are burned by urine
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2005:
LONDON–Examining the carcasses of 384 broiler hens raised
according to the British Farm Standard and offered for sale on
supermarket shelves, an investigation commissioned by the Royal SPCA
and directed by Cambridge University professor Donald Broom reported
in July 2005 that 82% had been burned on their legs or bodies by
prolonged contact with ammonia from feces.
“Lack of space and fast-growing bodies that can become too
heavy to be supported by their legs increases the likelihood of birds
receiving painful burns, as the birds spend more time in contact
with floor litter,” said RSPCA scientific officer Marc Cooper.
Among 25 organically raised free range chickens whose
carcasses were inspected, 42% had burns, the researchers found.
The RSPCA findings were released five weeks after the BBC
Programme Com-plaints Unit upheld a British Poultry Council complaint
that the BBC “Food Police Programme” showed bias against the poultry
industry in a 2004 expose of ammonia burns.
“The use of surreptitiously filmed material and reference to
Compassion In World Farming campaign efforts did not of themselves
give rise to bias” the Complaints Unit said, “but, together with
other features of the item, they implied criticisms of the
poultry-rearing industry which there should have been an opportunity
“One section described poultry sitting in their own urine,”
the Complaints Unit continued. “However, as chickens do not
urinate, but excrete urate crystals which are relatively dry, the
suggestion of chickens sitting in urine-soaked litter was somewhat
misleading. The impression given by the use of surreptitiously
filmed material and the associated commentary was also misleading,
in the absence of a reply on behalf of the industry, as to the
extent to which the issue of hock burn had been recognized and was
The RSPCA also reported in July 2005 that British battery
caged egg market share has fallen from 86% to 66% over the past 10
years. Free range egg market share soared from 11% to 27% during the
Asda supermarket chain strategy manager Chris Brown in June 2005 told
Farmer’s Weekly Interactive that free range egg sales in Britain are
growing at 22% per year. Asda is the British Walmart subsidiary.
Free range eggs have only 2% of the U.S. egg market share,
but got a boost on June 1 when the 75-store, 23-state Wild Oats
Natural Marketplaces chain discontinued selling cage-produced eggs.
“This makes Wild Oats the first national retailer to
officially commit exclusively to cage-free eggs for its approved
national and regional product lists,” HSUS Fund for Animals
president Mike Markarian said.
Based in Boulder, Colorado, Wild Oats is the second largest U.S.
health food retailer. Whole Foods Inc. has 166 stores.
Whole Foods CEO John Mackey in January 2005 announced the
formation of a new nonprofit called the Animal Compassion Foundation,
to promote a set of “Animal Compassionate Standards” within the
retail food industry, but has not yet committed Whole Foods to
selling only free range eggs.