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7/18/2017 - Perdue Stepping Up Efforts to Improve Treatment of Chickens - Click here to print this information

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SALISBURY, Md. (AP)- A major poultry provider with headquarters in Maryland says it's stepping up efforts to improve its chickens' lives.

Salisbury-based Perdue Farms released the first annual report on Monday about plans it announced in June 2016 changing how chickens are raised and slaughtered. The report says progress was made including alteration of breeding methods that promoted faster growth but also injury.

The company said recent improvements include:

-Giving chickens more space, more light during the day and longer lights-off periods for rest
-Increasing the number of chicken houses with windows
-Continuing to study the role of enrichments in encouraging active behavior
-Raising and studying slower-growing chickens
-Strengthening relationships with farmers
-The company also said controlled-atmosphere stunning systems that minimize stress would be installed for birds headed to processing.

Company chairman Jim Perdue and senior vice president Bruce Stewart-Brown said changes would eventually affect more than 1,500 contract farmers and 5,000 chicken houses.

Humane Society of the U.S. vice president Josh Balk said Perdue has become the largest poultry producer to ensure chickens in its supply chain are treated better.

"We applaud Perdue for focusing its improvements on the core areas of concern within the poultry industry and this holistic approach demonstrates all that's possible in creating better lives for billions of chickens," Balk said.

"It's not easy, and it requires commitment, resources and time," said Jim Perdue in a statement. "But people expect more from Perdue, and we have to keep improving."

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