News Blog Articles What’s really in that bucket of KFC?
What’s really in that bucket of KFC?

What’s really in that bucket of KFC?

April 30th, 2020

Absence is said to make the heart grow fonder, but in the case of the high demand for KFC at the end of the Level 4 COVID-19 restrictions, I wonder if the people who queued in their masses to get their first post-lockdown takeaway really knew what they were eating.

While the vast majority of New Zealanders think of themselves as animal lovers, a look at the suffering involved in those bits of chickens ending up in KFC buckets or burgers might make even avid chicken consumers think twice.

A chicken reared for meat in New Zealand, in line with practices around the world, is a bird who is bred to suffer. To maximise meat production, these chickens grow so fast they double in size every week. Their bones, muscles and organs just can’t keep up with this explosive growth. Between 6,000 and 10,000 chickens die every day in sheds across the country, mostly from heart failure (a horrific way to die, where they gasp for breath for hours beforehand). Or else they’re ‘culled’ because they are so severely lame. Most develop painful sores on their feet, legs and breasts from standing or sitting in ammonia-soaked litter. And this is even before they reach the slaughter age of six weeks.

These oversized baby birds still cheep and have blue eyes like chicks when they are sent to be killed.

Find out more about the life of chickens bred for meat.

Overseas, KFC has already successfully trialled a plant-based chicken alternative. It was so well received that customers queued around the block and stocks ran out in just five hours.

These vegan KFC meals are not yet available in New Zealand, but we’d certainly like to see that happening here. In the meantime, there are many tasty chicken alternatives available in supermarkets and elsewhere. Try them out to see which is your favourite.

With more of us now having hens in our backyards, we are starting to appreciate chickens as the complex individuals they truly are. They love to run around and investigate new things, dustbathe and stretch their wings out in the sunshine. All this is denied to chickens reared for meat, who live their short lives packed in a windowless shed with 40,000 others.

So, yes, KFC may be a ‘cheap’ meal, but remember the true cost is paid by the chickens themselves. Chickens deserve a better life and we all can make choices that can help create a better world for chickens, and for all animals.

Marianne Macdonald
Campaigns Manager at SAFE


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