We campaign with one goal in mind: to end cruel factory farming.
Our broken food system is bad for animals and humans alike, and we work tirelessly to build a world that’s more compassionate for animals, more just for farmers, and more transparent for consumers. Change is happening faster than ever—and thanks to you, the momentum continues to build. Looking for ways to join the fight? Read on to find out how you can improve the lives of animals!
Hold Ruby Tuesday Accountable: Recommit Cage-free!
In 2016, Ruby Tuesday publicly committed to sourcing 100% cage-free eggs—but they broke that promise. Not only did Ruby Tuesday cease reporting progress on their commitment and ignore continued requests for transparency, but they also completely removed their commitment from their website. Ruby Tuesday must be held accountable. Tell them to break cages, not promises! Use this form to demand transparency today.
New Year, Same USDA: Demand the USDA stop meat companies from using deceptive labels!
New USDA rules allow producers to ignore sound science and decide what higher welfare means, granting them wide authority to define and use consumer-important terms like "cage-free" and "free-range" however they like. Tell them they cannot allow the factory farming industry to obscure cruel conditions with misleading labels by signing our petition and sharing it with friends and family!
Eat Plants. For a Change.
If our food system continues on its current path, it will mean skyrocketing greenhouse gas emissions, catastrophic wildlife destruction, and perpetual animal suffering. We need to do more. And it starts with less. Less meat, eggs, and dairy on your plate means more progress for animals, people, and the planet—and more room for delicious plant-based foods! Sign up for free resources on how to eat less meat.
Discover the chicken industry's disgusting secret.
To meet high demand, chickens have been genetically manipulated to grow too big, too fast, while living sedentary lives on crowded, dirty factory farm floors. The chickens have changed—and the meat has, too (and it's nasty...). Find out what that means for animal welfare…and for your health.
Shop better, eat better.
With so much (mis)information and so many confusing food labels out there, it's easy to get overwhelmed. We broke it down, item by item, to help you choose food that's better for animals, the planet, and your health. Click here to download the—100% free!—Compassionate Food Guide.
Join the movement for Better Chicken.
Chickens suffer far more than any other farmed animal—and because factory farming has dramatically degraded their living conditions, dangerously warped their genetics, and cut corners to ramp up production, both chickens and consumers are paying the price. Luckily, there’s a better way—click here to get the facts and get involved.
Impact for Animals
From corporate boardrooms to the halls of government, public petitions to protest lines, bookshelves to social media feeds, 2019 was the most compassionate year yet in the fight to end factory farming. Here’s just a taste of what you made happen for animals, people, and the planet in 2019:
View your 2019 Impact here.
Compassion in World Farming is laser-focused on ending factory farming, the single biggest cause of animal cruelty on the planet. Our highly efficient and effective US team of animal welfare advocates is making real progress to improve the lives of millions of farm animals. Here’s what we’ve been up to lately:
Giving hens room to roam
Eggs from caged hens will soon be a thing of the past
We’re in the midst of a huge moment for egg-laying hens! Many of the world’s largest and most influential food companies have made historic cage-free egg commitments, allowing millions of hens the space to strut, flap, and perch.
Compassion is proud to have collaborated with the biggest players in the industry to help them establish policies that ditch the cages and acknowledge consumer demand for improved animal welfare standards. In the past two years, we have helped secure cage-free policies from:
- Major restaurant chains like McDonald’s, Panera, and Taco Bell.
- Top American supermarkets like Kroger, Trader Joe’s, Publix, and Delhaize—not to mention Walmart, the nation’s largest grocer.
- Sodexo and Compass, the biggest food service companies in the world.
Nearly every major food company—including all of the nation’s top 25 food retailers—have committed to transition to 100% cage-free supply chains.
And we’re dedicated to making sure these companies deliver on their promises: in 2017, we launched EggTrack, a first-of-its-kind progress tracking tool designed to ensure companies can and will stick to their cage-free egg commitments, encourage transparency in the marketplace, and provide assistance to food businesses during this critical transition. Check out the first annual EggTrack report and get the details on company progress.
Fighting for better chicken
Companies commit to better genetics and living conditions
Chickens raised for meat endure the most grueling lives of any farmed animal. Since 2012, our Better Chicken Initiative has advocated for the use of healthier, slower-growing breeds—and better living conditions that offer more space, natural light, and enrichment. Thanks to the passion and generosity of our supporters, major food companies have heard us loud and clear:
- Following a Compassion USA campaign, Perdue made waves in 2016 with its detailed animal welfare plan—the first of its kind in the chicken industry. And in 2017, they became the first major chicken producer to commit to meeting demand for higher welfare chicken—truly a game-changing move!
- Over 60 major food businesses—from food service companies to restaurant chains to manufacturers—have committed to better chicken. Among their ranks are huge names like Subway, Burger King, Jack in the Box, Qdoba, TGI Fridays, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Chipotle, Boston Market, Red Robin, Whole Foods Market, Campbell Soup Company, Nestlé, Kraft Heinz, and more. And the progress shows no sign of slowing down!
- We continue to forge unlikely partnerships with factory farm owners who want to speak out against injustices in the chicken industry. As a result of these videos, thousands of supporters have petitioned companies for better chicken.
- Our annual Pastured Poultry Week has brought together chefs from New York to Atlanta to highlight communities’ need for better chicken, raised humanely and sourced sustainably.
- For the past two years, chicken companies and food businesses have taken the unprecedented step of joining us at our Better Chicken Leadership Forum, where the people with the power to create change gather to discuss solutions to the most pressing chicken welfare issues—and the positive opportunities presented by the shift to higher welfare.
Advocating for consumers
Consumers win in fight for honest food labels
Factory farming isn’t only dangerous for the animals—it impacts our health, the environment, and worker safety. And as customers demand more information about where their food comes from and how animals are treated, Compassion USA is working to bring consumer issues to the fore:
- Factory farming has bred a chicken that grows so big, so fast, it can barely stand under its own massive weight. And this fast growth has huge consequences: painful muscle disorders in chickens that produce meat that’s higher in fat, lower in protein, and tougher to eat. In 2017, we unveiled the truth about chicken, and our story has reverberated around the globe and been featured in major outlets like BuzzFeed, Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Yahoo, and more.
- We’ve been fighting hard against the USDA’s ongoing delay of a critical rule that requires that organic farms meet higher welfare standards that match consumer expectations.
- When the USDA was verifying factory farmed chicken as “humane,” 123,000 consumers joined us in fighting for reform—and we won.
- Overuse of antibiotics in factory farming has contributed to the rapid rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs, and Compassion has been a leading voice in the movement to scale back this harmful practice in conjunction with better living conditions for farm animals.
- In 2017, we released our free Food Buying Guide, an all-in-one handbook for compassionate shoppers looking for plant-based alternatives and food options that benefit animals, public health, and the planet.
Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards motivate businesses to make animals a priority
Our Food Business Team works hard to make farm animal welfare a key priority for companies in every sector of the industry. When top food companies commit to meaningful change, the rest often follow, and that’s why we’re proud to recognize corporate leaders paving the way for farm animal welfare:
- Since 2007, our Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards have highlighted companies committed to establishing higher welfare standards in their global supply chains. In 2017, four US companies were recognized, including Whole Foods, Noodles & Company, and Shake Shack.
- Compassion in World Farming is a founding member of the Business Benchmark for Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW), the world’s leading measure of company performance on farm animal welfare and transparency. Our ratings drive corporate decision-making and have inspired change within some of the world’s biggest companies.
- Top food industry investors are taking note that consumers care about animal welfare. In a first-of-its-kind letter, 18 institutional investors signed on to take farm animal welfare policies into account when analyzing food companies, and to encouraging high standards and transparency across the food industry. And CIWF is proud to work with FAIRR (Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return) as they demonstrate to food companies the bottom line benefits of transitioning to higher welfare in their supply chains.
Spreading the word
The movement to end factory farming grows exponentially
People in the U.S. and around the world are demanding change for farm animals, and our movement is gaining momentum. In the past few years, our campaigns have reached over 200 million people and counting:
- Compassion’s fight for better chicken has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Forbes, National Geographic, BuzzFeed, Cosmopolitan, and more— including a feature on HBO's Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.
- Millions have tuned into our YouTube channel to watch farmers speak out, learn the truth about factory-farmed chicken, cheer Harry Potter actress Evanna Lynch as she kicked down the doors of factory farming—literally—and demand that our top grocers kick cages to the curb.
- Our supporters have signed our petitions and sent tens of thousands of emails to supermarkets asking for higher welfare standards and increased transparency—and thousands more are engaging with Compassion USA in their inboxes and their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds.
You are the change
We work hard to create real, measurable change in the lives of farm animals, but none of this would be possible without our passionate supporters. Thank you for standing up for farm animals and demanding better from our food system. To help power our food business program and advocacy campaigns, please consider making a donation.
Act with Compassion today.
News & Discussion
There are more chickens in the world than any other bird. In fact, more than 50 billion chickens are reared annually as a source of food, for both their meat and their eggs.
The natural life of chickens
Chickens are gregarious birds and live together as a flock with a distinct hierarchy or “pecking order.” They would naturally spend their day foraging for food, scratching the ground looking for insects and seeds.
When a cockerel finds food, he may call the hens to eat it by clucking in a high pitch and picking up and dropping the food. This behavior can also be seen in mother hens, calling their chicks.
Chickens tend to range widely, using the cover of trees and vegetation for safety from predators.
Life on some farms and small-holdings is just like that. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the 50 billion chickens reared each year experience intensive farming methods.
The reality of life on the farm
Where do cattle come from?
Cattle were domesticated as long ago as the Neolithic age and have been kept as livestock ever since for their meat, milk, and hides.
Historically, there was no distinction between dairy cattle and beef cattle, with the same breeds used for both milk and meat. However, in the developed world today farmers usually keep either beef or dairy cattle. Through generations of selection, dairy breeds such as the Holstein have been bred specifically to produce very high volumes of milk. Other breeds have been bred to maximize beef production.
The calves of dairy and beef cows are likely to have very different lives. Beef calves are generally slaughtered for beef after one to two years. Female dairy calves are usually reared for milk production. About half of the calves produced by dairy cows are male and therefore not valuable for milk production. These calves are typically sold either raised for beef or are sold to veal farms, where they are raised in small pens isolated from other animals. In these systems, many of the calves’ natural behaviors are denied. For instance, calves are typically weaned and separated from their mothers prematurely.
Due to the efforts of animal welfare organizations like the Humane Society of the United States, seven states have passed laws banning veal crates, which are the smallest of these enclosures: Arizona, California, Colorado, Maine, Michigan, Ohio, and Rhode Island.
US beef cattle are typically reared outdoors on grass for the first part of their lives, although most are brought indoors or fattened on grains in crowded feedlots before slaughter. In indoor systems, beef cattle are commonly housed in cramped conditions on slatted floors. This increases aggression and can lead to severe injuries and lameness.
While pigs are sometimes depicted as being dirty and gluttonous, the truth is that they are highly intelligent animals.
Where are pigs from?
Pigs are believed to have been domesticated from wild boar as early as 9,000 years ago.
They were originally native to Europe and parts of Asia, but over the centuries have been introduced to many parts of the world. Most pigs live as livestock, but some have become feral, having escaped from farms or been deliberately introduced into the wild for hunting. Some breeds of pig, such as the Asian pot-bellied pig, are kept as pets.
The natural life of pigs
Pigs are naturally omnivorous and will eat both plants and small animals. In the wild they will forage for leaves, grass, roots, fruits and flowers. Because of their foraging abilities, and an excellent sense of smell, pigs are used to hunt truffles.
Unfortunately, the freedom to express their natural behavior is not afforded to most pigs raised today.
Pig farming today
Worldwide, approximately 1.4 billion pigs are slaughtered annually for meat. The majority are raised in East Asia, particularly China, which rears around half of the world’s pigs. This is followed by the EU, North America, Vietnam, and Brazil. The majority of pigs are reared for meat while a smaller number are kept for breeding.
While some pigs are kept free-range and in backyards in many developing countries, at least half of the world’s pig meat is produced in intensive systems.
This shift away from traditional pig farming to large-scale, intensive methods has resulted in significant concerns for the welfare of millions of pigs all over the world.
One of the first farmed animals, sheep have been reared for thousands of years for meat and milk.
There are more than 1 billion sheep worldwide. The greatest numbers are farmed in Asia and Africa. Sheep are raised for meat (lamb and mutton) and for milk.
Sheep are prey animals and are largely defenseless against predators, naturally nervous, and easily frightened. They flock together for safety. Sheep have a “flight zone”—the distance they keep from a potential threat such as a person or sheepdog—which varies depending how wild the sheep are.
Lambs are very independent at birth and form strong bonds with their mothers, recognizing each other by their “bleats” (vocalizations).
Sheep are surprisingly intelligent. They are able to recognize and remember approximately 50 sheep faces and those of familiar humans.
Where do sheep come from?
Domesticated sheep originate from wild sheep. They were one of the first domesticated animals, farmed since about 9,000 BC. Over the years of domestication, sheep have been bred to have more wool and have developed into black, white, and spotted varieties.
Sheep farming today
Most sheep are farmed outdoors, with less than one percent kept in intensive systems (although this is still more than 10 million animals). Some sheep may be housed over winter, but otherwise housing is generally reserved for lambing, fattening of some lambs, and for milking sheep.
Although the majority of sheep are not intensively farmed, there are still significant concerns for sheep and lamb welfare.
Modern turkeys are the descendants of wild breeds, originally from North America. They were brought to Europe by the Spanish who had discovered them as a favorite domesticated animal of the Aztecs. In the US, turkey is still enjoyed as a holiday treat: a significant percentage of turkeys consumed in the US are eaten on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter.
Turkey farming today
Globally, more than 650 million turkeys per year are raised for meat. More than a third of them are raised in the US.
Modern commercial turkeys are selectively bred to grow much faster and with more breast meat than traditional turkeys. Baby turkeys (called “poults”) are typically reared in enclosed sheds that can house thousands of birds.
By the time they are ready for slaughter at between nine and 24 weeks of age, turkeys weigh between 11 and 44 lbs (sometimes more).
Young turkeys are kept in overcrowded sheds that are usually bare except for food and water, with litter on the floor to absorb the droppings. As the birds grow, the overcrowding intensifies until the floor of the shed is completely covered and the birds can no longer move freely.
The sheds are artificially lit and ventilated. The lights in the sheds are kept on for much of the day to encourage the birds to eat.
Smaller turkey producers, especially those producing for the seasonal winter market, often keep turkeys in open barns with natural lighting and ventilation. The number of birds per square meter is typically lower than in enclosed sheds.
In the US, the USDA requires that all poultry carrying the “free-range” label must have had at least some access to the outdoors.
The Animal Welfare Approved welfare standards for turkeys require access to a foraging area for all turkeys over four weeks of age, but encourage access for turkeys as young as two or three days of age if conditions are suitable.
Unfortunately, most turkeys are raised in intensive, indoor systems, which raises many welfare issues.