This Friday, Oct. 12, 2018 photo shows chickens under observation at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.(AP Photo/Federica Narancio)
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Such measures may be considered irrelevant by companies but underscore a broader lack of consensus around the welfare of chickens, which are sometimes slaughtered as soon as five weeks after hatching.The two sides disagree about the cause and frequency of health issues among broilers chickens.John Glisson of the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association says broiler chickens are "couch potatoes" and that some people may mistake the birds' laziness for a medical issue.He said trying to assess welfare is tricky beyond established industry measures, like whether a chicken dies from disease before it's slaughtered.The industry says changing breeds is unnecessary, and that switching to broiler chickens that don't grow as big or as fast would mean using up more water and other resources. Aviagen and Tyson-owned Cobb, which supply breeds to chicken producers, are providing birds for the study, including breeds that are widely used.Since then, it has acknowledged that chicken welfare is more complicated than just growth rate.It's now pushing for a "better" chicken, and hopes the study will help define what that entails.
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