After Woolworths’ own brand fresh chicken gained RSPCA Approved certification in 2014, the supermarket chain began the transition to using RSPCA Approved chicken as an ingredient across their own branded products – including soups and convenience meals – which was completed in 2020.
Now this year, Woolworths has made another step forward for animal welfare, launching Woolworths Slow Raised Whole Chicken – a slower-growing chicken range and a welcome addition to their existing higher-welfare chicken products.
The practice of slower-raised chicken farming uses select genetics from slower-growing chickens, to address some of the significant welfare challenges that affect conventional, faster-growing breeds – such as leg health. These meat chickens grow at a slower rate than conventional meat chicken breeds used commercially, and this is purely due to their genetics. The introduction of slower-growing meat chicken breeds in Australia is a positive step forward for animal welfare.
On free-range farms that meet the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme outdoor Standards, slower-grown meat chickens are able to mature at a slower rate. Once old enough, chickens are able to leave their barns during daylight hours and access fenced outdoor areas. Like all chickens raised in RSPCA Approved free-range housing systems, these birds have the ability to freely explore the outdoor range and express normal behaviours such as foraging, dustbathing and interacting with the enrichment provided.
On average, Australians currently consume more than 47kg of chicken, per person, per year. We say thank you to Woolworths, for continuing to source chicken from farms that raise their birds to a higher-welfare standard. The inclusion of slower-growing poultry is a commendable move in the right direction for farm animal welfare, demonstrating retailers’ growing commitments to provide Australian consumers who choose to eat meat with greater access to higher-welfare products.