Perdue Farms is about to do its work with chickens a little differently than before. The fourth-largest poultry producer in the country, Perdue has broken ranks with the rest of its industry to endorse a major change in how it treats chickens. And it's ready to introduce its first step of work.
So far, they've added more light and windows to one barn, along with features like wooden boxes and straw bales for the chickens to perch on. The chickens in this particular barn are visibly moving around, climbing on objects, and perching. So why does this matter? It has a lot to do with how the chicken's meat will be when it makes its way on your stove and later, your plate.
Perdue executives have decided that chicken meat is much higher quality when the chickens are active, rather than stationary, like how they've been in other farms without chicken-friendly features. The company's chairman, Jim Perdue, said he found this out while raising chickens organically.
"We're finding that meat from organic chickens is better," Jim Perdue said. "More tender. Different color. Activity is the key. [Organic chickens] are more active, they're running around."
The big change also has to do with pressure from companies who might not buy their chicken otherwise. Several food service companies that buy chicken for cafeterias and cafés will refuse to buy chicken from producers a few years from now unless they make commitments to giving chickens better lives.
So in other words, Perdue is making sure your chicken not only tastes better, but that you can keep ordering their product if you happen to be in the mood for some wings or thighs while out on the go.
Of course, this doesn't mean a massive change will happen overnight for every single chicken on the farms right now. But this seems like a positive step in the right direction, and we're excited for what the future holds for our (tastier) chicken!