Chicken Out Campaign

Chicken Out CampaignYou may have heard about the conditions involved in intensive factory farming of broiler (meat) chickens. Hugh of River Cottage fame has launched a national campaign to put pressure on the industry to raise its standards: the Chicken Out! campaign.

“Chicken Out! has so far been led by River Cottage locals, especially in and around Axminster, and we’ve had a fantastic response. But now I need your support. I’m asking all of you, as friends of River Cottage, to support this campaign and get it off to a flying start across the nation. “

Please see for more info.

124 Comments on "Chicken Out Campaign"

  1. rebecca says:

    i was absolutely facinated by hugh’s programme and was very much influenced by it when i went shopping in asda today. at the chicken section i immediately looked for free range but couldnt find any. there was space for approx 4 chickens but they were sold out. still, i was determined not to be forced to buy a standard chicken so went next door to M&S food where i had a choice of 2 free range chickens (again there was only a tiny space allowed for free range).

  2. Laura Phillips says:

    i felt sick after watching the programmes…i havent eaten meat for ver a week and i used to have chicken practically every day! I now just have quorn and fish and feel soooooooo much better!Thank you, keep it up, you can make a difference!

  3. Liam says:

    I was aware of the inhumane conditions that intensively produced chickens are subject to, prior to Hugh’s programme. It is an admirable cause that Hugh is championing. I have always purchased Free range Chicken, and Eggs. Chickens are by their nature outdoor birds. They require stimulation, and space to run about. They love scratching around and basking in the Sun. It is cruel to keep chickens under conditions that are alien, or deprive them from behaving naturally. Tescos has today fought back with a national advertising campaign stating it’s customers are “Free range to choose”. Basically meaning it will not change it’s merchandising. So two chickens for £5 is likely to continue. It is the supermarkets that are a major part of the problem when it comes to the welfare of the animals that are supplied to them. Farmers are struggling with ever tighter profit margins. And as the supermarkets have so much purchasing power, they dictate the price to the Farmer. But now the Supermarkets are shunning the responsibility of Chicken welfare to the consumer. So it is up to the public to make a choice between intensively reared birds at bargain basement prices, or Free Range produce. I remember when Chicken was quite a luxury. It was far too expensive to eat it every day. We had it for Sunday Roast probably once or twice a month. And even then Mum would make a gorgeous Chicken and Vegetable Stew with the bits left over, which would be Monday nights Dinner. I think our modern day national love affair with cheap chicken, should be given an holistic review. What is the real cost is this cheap meat industry. Obviously it has a profound cost to the quality of life of the Chicken. Maybe we should adopt a view that Chicken is a quality meat, that is worth paying a bit extra for. Paying what amounts to less than a pint of lager for a Free Range Chicken, compared to an intensively reared bird is not too much too ask. And only then will the Supermarkets and the Poultry Industry take notice and phase out what amounts to an abuse of defenceless animals. Power to the people (and the Chickens)!

  4. karen says:

    the conditions that the chickens go through is ova the top all it took was for a fue objects to keep the chickens happy and not have so so many of them in a small barn, yet people are still on about they cant afford them but its not like you are buying them every day just once in a blue moon.p.s we need to stop battery hens all together, atleast morrisons are trying to help with it.

  5. Adam Sillett says:

    Hello I am age 8 and have 2 pet chickens i have talked to my head teacher about only having free range chickens to be used for school dinners. I was really shocked to see these chickens in the shed with no light how has the government accepted this is good food for people. Adam Sillett age 8

  6. Andrew says:

    Thanks for all your comments everyone – the program certainly hit a nerve!

    I should point out that this is not the offical site of the campaign (and I’m not Hugh!). I did send them a link to this page and asked for a comment form them in terms of saying thanks. Sadly they haven’t bothered replying to me or leaving the comment.

    Anyway, its the chickens we should be concerned with!

  7. chris and helen palmer says:

    Hi Hugh

    We have been sitting on the fence for about a year about chickens.

    We are in the process of being matched with children who need adopting and always thought that knowing how food should be kept and prepared was better than potentially what they had been use to before!

    Thanks to you and Jamie we have made our choices. First step was buying free range eggs last weekend. But typically we don’t do things by half!) Yesterday we spent about 4 hours choosing a chicken house and run and being educated in the ways of poultry.

    We anticipate delivery in two weeks, so we can practice with a few POL’s before we start rearing our own eggies and meaties! So we hope to be eggsperts before the children ar

  8. Glenys Lawrence says:

    Some years ago while on holiday abroad I saw, and smelled, a typical chicken house as shown on your programme. It was huge with thousands of birds in a distressing state. It left a deep impression on me and I have only bought free range birds and eggs since. It is better to eat quality birds that live well and taste much better than to eat cheap meat from birds that live in such suffering conditions.

  9. Vicki says:

    Re post 47: Elizabeth Hill

    My thoughts exactly, but unfortunately too many people lack the skills. I have to admit, I wasn’t and never have been interested in cooking, I don’t get excited about food though I do appreciate others’ efforts in the kitchen! I have learned all I know about basic ‘cookery’ from my husband who was very well taught by his mother. When we (and our 2 children) finish a meal, very little goes in the bin. We compost everything that can be. Leftovers are put in the fridge or freezer and at least two or three other meals are made using the stock, left over meat/veg etc. That’s not expensive!
    This is a household which only buys biscuits occasionally – not routine, and our children only choose fizzy pop etc when we’re out – more often than not they’d rather have water or juice. It comes down to education and for all those teachers out there who may read this and think ‘here we go again’, I am a primary teacher myself and have been for nearly 20 years. I see it as my duty to my children to help to educate them about food. We have ‘Food Technology’ as part of our weekly curriculum and taste a wide range of foods whilst learning about where they come from, how they are produced and how they can be used. So many parents comment on how their child will eat things at school that they won’t even consider at home.
    Thanks Hugh and Jamie for bringing the chickens’ plight so powerfully to the spotlight. I was reduced to tears, but I am now even more resolute about my decision to eat free range and about my duty to my children at home and at school.

  10. jacqueline Merrick says:

    Your program has done a great job of getting this issusse onthe agenda again lets go futher Ban intensive Chicken farming”
    I am lucky enough to have my own “river cottage” smallholding (unfortunatly not by the river), where we have our own FREE range chicken for eggs and meat.
    But i am currantly studying at Cornwall College Newquay (Cornwall), centre for aplied Zoology, and asstudent rep i ahve started a petition for our NEWQUAY campus to be “FREE RANGE” only.
    Hopefully i will recieve 100% support, i`ll let you know

  11. Dee says:

    after seeing the programe my hubby and i went to a battery farm and bought 36 hens they now run free in our garden the conditions they are kept in are horrid i walked out couldnt stick it i would ask everyone to go to one and see for themselves its bad on tv but worse when you see it for real and the smell is pure amoinia we have always been free range and would like to see more of you go the same

  12. Ebonie and shivz says:

    Free range chickens r the best buy them people !


  13. LYNN says:

    I have just been down to our local
    Co-Op to buy a free range chicken. No free range on the shelf. I asked a member of staff why and was told that they were on order but could not be supplied. They did however have 4 portions of free range chicken breast tucked away in a corner surrounded by shelves of standard chickens. This can’t be right. I asked where would the free range chicken normaly be displayed and was told that there was a space on the bottom shelf (enough room to put 2 chickens side by side). The ticket had been turned around and the space used for standard chickens rather than keeping the space empty. I then spoke to a member of staff on the check out about the lack of choice. She was very polite and understood what I was saying but added that the standard chickens where brought up in barns that had hay bales and a little natural light and that they tasted ‘JUST AS GOOD’ Not quite the answer I expected. I was also told that they had actually had your programms running in the shop. Now I am convinced
    that the supermarkets are bullying us all into buying what they want to sell and not what we want to buy. We as customers must question supermarkets and demand the food we wish to eat. So from now on FARM SHOP HERE I COME.

  14. simon phillips says:

    Having seen this well thought out and seemingly well balanced campaign, I do have soem sympathy for those concerned that they cannot afford better treated chicken. However it does make you wonder how low income people fed themselves when in the not too distant past chicken was much more expensive anyway. Also a lot of the people I have heard claiming that 2 for £5 is all they can afford to feed their kids also smoke and drink a lot, both expensive vices!
    It is true though that free range chicken needs to be cheaper to really get people behind it, but if the volume is there then the price will fall.

  15. Ben Sanderson says:

    It’s unbelivable!!!im a student at University college Falmourth studying Fine art and am definatly going to do a project on this!people have to stop buying battery farmed chickens!

  16. sophie and craig says:

    we think it is fantastic that someone is finally opening peoples eyes to what happens in this country and what we call excepitable. we will always eat free range thanks to you. keep up the good work we are behind you all the way..xx

  17. Ray says:

    I saw that program, it should be made law for anyone that keeps chickens, or any poultry, even one chicken TO LET THEM OUT, my chickens would never be treat like that.
    Ray of Hull

  18. darren says:

    i have 170,000 chickens and i can honestly say they are kept in good conditions , they have play bales to play on , the litter is kept dry and topped up and they never go over stocked, yet the farm makes no money.if the price of chicken was higher and the public would pay the price , the conditions would improve more ,its the supermarkets who are the winners not us farmers….. if i worked out how many hrs i did i would be on way less than the min wage

  19. john davies says:

    good work hugh. lets hope the change comes soon.
    i have worked in a chicken factory and the farmers get payed on the waight of the birds not how many they deliver some of them birds are in no fit state they are culed as soon as they get to the plant
    this plant where i was does 3/4 of a million a week and 3000 a day are just put in the bin.
    i been looking at this now for months and found that there is well over a millon a week reared just for this one factory with 250.000 want rven reach the shop now thats bad


  20. Peter Crowter says:

    I’m not sure if you post mildly critical comments but here goes.
    When I was a schoolboy back in the forties a chicken meal was the height of luxury and only enjoyed on rare occasions. Then in the fifties the broiler, a fast growing meat-producing bird was introduced from America. Very soon the intensive, indoor rearing of broiler chicken became big business and producers were able to provide birds in large numbers at a price everyone could afford.
    Back in those days free-range was usually a life enjoyed by laying hens. Poultry houses contained something like a couple of dozen birds. They were on wheels and were frequently moved around the fields giving the hens a constant supply of fresh ground. In the autumn, when the cornfields had been cleared the houses were pulled out onto the stubbles for the birds to clear up the grain left behind after the harvest. Their eggs had rich, dark yolks and tasted infinitely better than those laid by battery hens.
    The modern concept of ‘free-range’ is very different and I wonder if in some cases it is just a tag used to extract extra money from the customer. In Hugh’s TV experiment there were standard broilers housed in one half of the shed and free range in the other. His free- range birds often appeared on screen pecking around in lush green grass 2 or 3 inches tall. I am sure many of the commercial free-range birds do not enjoy this luxury.
    Rules for free-range production state the outside pens should be ‘mainly covered by vegetation’. For how long I wonder? There is no limit on flock numbers in free-range units and flocks can number many thousands. According to the Soil Association some flocks are ‘so large many never venture out of doors’. Is the quality of life for many of the ‘free-range’ birds much better than that of the standard bird? A little maybe because they have more space but the difference, especially in the large flocks is not as great as some would have us believe.
    You have probably heard of the RSPB’s Freedom Foods and their member- producers are strictly monitored. In their system the birds are kept indoors but enjoy 25% more space than the legal minimum, brighter lighting and a proper dark period. I suspect these birds lead as comfortable a life as their so-called free-range counterparts and they are cheaper to buy (£3.80 as opposed to £5.90). I believe the RSPB have got it right and my advice is beware of the so-called ‘free-range’ chicken and go for the Freedom Foods label where the welfare rules for the birds are strictly controlled.

  21. Mrs A Leahy says:

    I am pleased to know that people and groups are still compaigning for better standards in rearing poultry – keep up the good work.

  22. deb says:

    wheather ists intence reared or not, if you still eat it your still particapating and passing the message on thats its ok to take a life , long before its time is over. and when you say humane killing, that answer should be never,

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