Morrisons has pledged to launch a Better Chicken Commitment range of high-welfare affordable poultry from early next year.
The Better Chicken Commitment advocates a range of measures to improve bird welfare. It includes the adoption of a slower growing breed, increasing levels of light and play areas, giving the birds more room to roam inside the barns they live in, and using more humane stunning methods.
All of Morrisons fresh chicken is 100% British and reared to some of the world’s highest welfare standards. Morrisons has a set of bespoke standards which go beyond Red Tractor to keep birds healthy – ensuring they have the space, natural light, environment and materials to remain in good physical condition and to express natural behaviours – from the moment they hatch until the end of their life.
In order to launch an affordable Better Chicken Commitment range, Morrisons will work with its farmers to introduce a new breed of slower growing Redbro chicken into the UK, at a lower stocking density. Whilst introducing the new flocks, Morrisons will also work with Compassion in World Farming, its farmers and chicken breeders to closely monitor and create a standard for raising these birds.
Morrisons chicken welfare standards include: providing ample water and food; a balanced and varied diet; having a stimulus rich, safe and comfortable environment; rearing healthy and fit birds; allowing birds to able to express natural behaviours; and, enabling birds to explore, forage, and interact with one another. In 2020 Morrisons went beyond the Better Chicken Commitment by requiring that all birds were born in the barns where they would be raised, removing any stress caused by early life transportation.
In keeping with the principles of the Better Chicken Commitment, Morrisons also introduced extra daylight and perches into chicken barns over five years ago. Morrisons also agrees that birds need room to roam in their barns and be free to express normal behaviours – like wing flapping, scratching and dust bathing.
Sophie Throup, Head of Agriculture at Morrisons said: “Improving animal welfare is very important to customers and it’s very important to us. We are always moving forward in welfare on farm and want to support the principles of the Better Chicken Commitment by starting right back at the farms and breeding birds specifically to launch a dedicated range. This is on top of the higher standards of chicken welfare we already have with our farmers. We are pleased to be working with our farmers and leading welfare groups as we develop our new higher welfare but still affordable range.”
Morrisons has a wide range of chicken available in its stores – including Organic and Free Range, where the birds grow slowly and have the freedom to roam and forage outside. All of Morrisons chicken ranges are also governed by the Red Tractor Assurance Scheme.
In February 2020 Morrisons became the first supermarket to sell only free range eggs. All Morrisons eggs come from hens that have outdoor access for at least eight hours each day, as well as nest boxes with wide perches and spaces for scratching and dust bathing. Morrisons is continuing to work on ensuring that 100% of eggs used as ingredients in products are cage free by 2025.