When KFC teamed up with Joe.co.uk and social media influencer Niko Omilana to “go behind the bucket” at a flagship farm, we rolled our eyes and pulled on our PPE. We’ve been inside enough chicken farms to know that none of them looked like the one being showcased here. Fresh straw! Swings to play on! Bells to ring! Lots of room to roam and express natural behaviors! It all looked like a sunny day at a holiday camp. We couldn’t wait to visit and join in the fun.
And so we supersleuthed. We pored over Google Earth, tracked down media reports, and sifted through various promotional articles, and soon located the exact farm. Before we tell you what we found, you may like to know what Omilana was shown when he visited:
- Fresh straw covered the floor of the entire shed, and the farm manager asked Niko to spread even more
- Platform perches were provided as enrichment to enable birds to express their natural behaviors (Niko referred to these as “swings”)
- The farm manager stated that bells were also provided as enrichment
- The birds were young and had a reasonable amount of space to move
- There were no dead, sick, or injured birds anywhere
Good question, Niko. But that is not a swing. That is one of the perches we found raised out of reach of the birds.
This is the single “swing” that was provided as enrichment for all 52,000 birds.
Would all birds please form an orderly queue. You’ll get just over 1 second of fun each.
KFC’s “High-Welfare” Chicken Farm
So, what do you think we found when we visited the farm just a few weeks after this happy, upbeat film was published?
- Obviously, the platform perches were raised out of reach of the birds, and there was just one swing for 52,000 chickens; but also:
- There was no straw on the ground, which was sodden with animal feces. Two plastic-wrapped bales stood by the door, unavailable to the birds
- There was no sign of any bells
- The birds were older when we visited, and the barn was packed
- Dead birds littered the floor, and two bodies had been abandoned in a wheelbarrow inside the shed
- There were many sick, injured and / or lame birds
- The dead bins outside were so full that animals’ limbs protruded
Blah Blah Blah
“We’re very proud of our animal welfare here,” the farm manager assures Niko on the marketing film. “That’s why KFC have signed the Better Chicken Commitment.” If your eyes are rolling like our eyes are rolling, we could probably power the country’s homes with this new-found source of renewable energy.
Almost all chicken meat comes from intensive farms, and intensive chicken farms are huge, filthy, crowded, and ruthless. Hundreds of birds suffer and die in every shed, every few weeks, while the dead bins are filled to overflowing, emptied, and then filled up again.
We know why companies that sell chickens’ meat also try to sell a story about how much they care. The number of people ditching meat – for animals, the environment, and their health – continues to rise. But did they think they would not be found out? Did they think we’d just say: Ah, isn’t it nice that they have provided some perches for the birds? and not bother to check the truth? It’s like they don’t know us at all.
Animals being treated this way makes us angry. Greenwashing makes us angry too. So, now we know the truth about how sentient beings are treated for KFC, we have to ask: Is the farm lying to KFC about its welfare standards, or is KFC lying to us?
In January, VFC commissioned a consumer survey to find out what people knew about factory farming, and to ask whether they supported it. The response was pretty conclusive. While the vast majority of people consider themselves to be animal lovers, and do not agree with chickens being farmed intensively, they have no idea that this is how almost all chickens are raised in the US, Europe, and many other parts of the world.
With industry marketing such as this KFC paid partnership, it becomes absolutely clear how and why people are kept in the dark. With just 16 percent of respondents saying they would be happy to buy chicken from an intensive farm, the industry really cannot afford for people to find out the truth.
Yup. This is how much they care…
Bonus KFC Q&A
How much chicken does KFC use a year?
The company does not share this information, but there are estimates of 850 million to one billion animals slaughtered for KFC each year.
How many chickens do KFC use a day?
That works out to around 2,500,000 animals killed every single day.
Who supplies KFC chicken?
In the UK, Moy Park is a key supplier of chickens to KFC. The company says it has 590 farms with about 35 million birds at any one time. It is Northern Ireland’s largest company and revealed an operating profit of £86.2 million in 2020.
How does KFC slaughter their chickens?
There are two methods of slaughtering chickens. Both are horrific. In one, conscious animals are shackled upside down by their legs (remember that many birds suffer broken legs during their lifetimes). They are then dragged through electrified water, which is intended to stun them. Whether it is effective or not, the slaughter line keeps moving, and the birds have their throats cut, and they bleed to death. The other method is by being lowered into a purpose-built gas chamber. The animals gasp for air as they suffocate to death.
When will KFC have vegan chicken?
It already does! Beyond Chicken Nuggets are available from KFC and so is the Beyond Chicken Sandwich. All of the flavors you love, none of the suffering.