I’ve been writing about the human-animal bond, and found that so many people form connections with animals, and not just cats and dogs. There are even two stories in my new book, Faithfully Yours, about a woman who helped her asthmatic chicken, and had compassion for a chicken who wanted to hatch some eggs! So that is why I wanted to share this information with you. The ASPCA is hoping to raise awareness about the plight of factory farmed chickens and how you can help. Introducing: Change your Chicken Challenge! Here’s what you need to know:

There is a ton of information on the web about organic
products, grass fed beef vs grain fed, having too many hormones and antibiotics
in meat and dairy, and buying chickens that have been raised “cage free.” But
what does all that mean and why is it important?  It should always be important to know and
understand what you are feeding your body, especially when you have kids. But
how do you know what is really “good?”
There are some pretty shady foods and labels out there, so
make sure you are doing your research. 
Even then, don’t be fooled by fancy words and claims. Words like
Organic, humanely raised, natural, cage free, free range, hormone free,
antibiotic free and vegetarian fed, are thrown around all over the place. But
in reality, they do not mean much. 
A great example is “Cage Free.” This is a misleading claim
for meat chickens because, unlike egg-laying hens, they are never raised in
cages. If someone claims “Hormone Free,” well of course they are, because it is
already illegal to feed hormones to chickens. So you aren’t getting anything
different than what anyone else has. Another great claim is “Antibiotic Free.” Antibiotics
are fed to animals on factory farms as a band aid fix for unhealthy living
conditions. However, removing drugs does not alone make for a more humane
Over the last few decades, corporatized, industrialized
agriculture has largely replaced America’s independent small farms—with
catastrophic consequences for animals. While there is no strict definition,
industrialized “factory farms” are characterized by extreme confinement of
large numbers of animals with practices designed to maximize efficiency and
profit, and little regard for animals’ well-being, sentience or natural
behaviors. Factory farms often use animals bred to produce unnatural amounts of
eggs, milk or meat, causing painful disorders and lameness.
The ASPCA is hoping to raise awareness about the plight of
factory farmed chickens in order to inspire the public to demand healthier,
more humane conditions. They launched Change
Your Chicken
– a 30 day challenge that encourages Americans to shift all
their chicken purchases from the worst factory farmed products to more humanely
raised products. 
So how do you know what you are getting yourself into and
what to look for if you are looking for chicken that is truly good? One great
place to start – These three certifications represent a range of better
environments for birds than conventional farms and require annual farm audits:
A few good ways to start your search for healthier meat are
to find meats that have specific standards with labels that match those
Animal Welfare
– Look for chickens that have continuous access to pasture or
range. No feedlots. Cage confinement, hormones and sub-therapeutic antibiotics
prohibited. Standards extend to breeding animals, transport and slaughter.
Certified Humane,
Raised & Handled
–Look for chickens that have continuous outdoor access
for ruminants. Cage confinement, hormones and sub-therapeutic antibiotics
prohibited. Minimum space allowance and bedding required for indoor
Global Animal Partnership 5 Step Program (Steps 2 and
above) –
Step 2: indoor space and enrichment requirements. Step 3: outdoor
access. Step 4: access to pasture. Step 5: full pasture environment. Step 5+:
slaughter on farm.
Certified HumaneAnimal Welfare Approved and Global Animal Partnership (levels 2 and above) represent a range
of higher-welfare practices, but all three certify that the chicken you’re
buying was not subjected to the terrible crowding, filth, sickness and
suffering found on the worst factory farms. 
As a part of this
challenge, the ASPCA has put together some great resources to help along the
So, are you ready to take the #ChangeYourChicken 30 day
? I am challenging all of my readers to not only take the
challenge, but post on social media, and encourage friends and family members
to share and take the challenge as well! There are some awesome resources on
the ASPCA website, including the challenge toolkit, which has resources to help
you change your chicken. Pledge takers will also receive exclusive tips and
help along the way by email. If you’re a fellow blogger, reach out to me to
find out how to create your own blog post and spread the word about the
#ChangeYourChicken challenge.
With every purchase we have the power to reduce farm animal
suffering. Take a stand and #ChangeYourChicken!

*This information was provided by Sandy Gillam, Element Associates, on behalf of the ASPCA.