American farmers are dedicated to raising the healthiest chicken. Keeping flocks free from fear, pain, stress and suffering is plain and simple, and the right thing to do. Which is the fact that when chickens are handled properly, they also grow better.
That’s why the American chicken industry developed Chicken Guarantees, a set of welfare standards that serve as the standard for the broiler industry (chicken raised for meat). Broilers are raised by farmers trained in animal care and under the care of licensed veterinarians. Read on to find out how chickens grow big and strong (spoiler: it’s not hormones or steroids!), where the chickens live on the farm and how chicken producers care for the birds.
Keep the chickens safe in the farm
Farmers play one of the biggest roles in food safety by protecting chickens from diseases, predators and pests. On the farm, all visitors are required to wear safe biological suits and personal protective equipment to ensure that no bacteria or other foreign matter enters the chicken house.
Farmers also perform a health and safety measure known as “aerobic farming”. This means that before a new flock arrives, chicken farmers heat the poultry droppings to kill any bacteria.
Breeding chickens in growing houses
Feed chickens tailor-made nutritious meals
You may be surprised to learn that there are no hormones used in the production of chicken in the United States. In fact, the US government has banned the use of hormones and steroids in poultry since the 1950s. This means no hormones or steroids – absolutely nothing added.
So, if hormones aren’t the cause, why are chickens plump? Chickens are bigger today for several reasons. One of these reasons is optimum nutrition – a diet tailored to each stage of a chicken’s life. Broilers eat a primarily diet of corn and soybeans. The vitamins, minerals and other nutrients in the feed are adjusted according to the age and nutritional requirements of the herd.
Today’s birds are also given top-notch veterinary care and ideal living conditions. But perhaps most importantly, the chicken industry has modernized the science of traditional chicken farming. Over the years, breeders have selected chickens with the healthiest genetic traits, such as leg strength, heart health, etc., to help future generations get the best possible start. Intelligent breeding is the key to growing healthy and strong broilers.
Always take care of the birds
Taking care of chickens is what farmers and handlers do. That’s why the National Chicken Council has developed our Broiler Care Guidelines and Checklists, which provide science-based recommendations for appropriate treatment at every stage of a chicken’s life. The checklists are accredited by the Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization (PAACO). These guidelines are reviewed every two years, so we always use the latest chicken science and technology to ensure our chickens grow healthy and strong across the country.
Find out more about how chickens get from farm to table with this infographic.