Recent Articles About Animal Welfare

Want to Find Sustainable Poultry? There’s an App for That

The nonprofit animal advocacy group Farm Forward hopes its new website,, will do for poultry what the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch guides have done for fish.

But unlike fish, farmed poultry isn’t scarce. According to Portland, Oregon-based Farm Forward, some eight billion chickens and turkeys are raised for food in the United States annually, and 99 percent of those come from factory farms. Read more

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How Will Bird Flu Affect Backyard Poultry?

With the crisp autumn air and accompanying fall migration already here, nervous poultry owners are keeping a watchful eye on backyard flocks as experts warn that another round of the deadly bird flu—also known as Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI)—is just around the corner. Warm weather kept new outbreaks at bay, but the change in seasons will likely bring the return of the two deadly bird flu strains—H5N2 and H5N8—that wiped out nearly 50 million chickens and turkeys across the country last spring. While this could mean more economic turmoil for the commercial poultry industry, experts are also urging hobby farmers and non-commercial farmers who keep small “backyard” flocks to report any changes in their birds as soon as they occur. Read more

Editor’s Note: The Meat of the Matter

Very few issues have larger implications for public health, animal welfare, and the environment than industrial animal agriculture. Over the past six years, we’ve spent a great deal of time reporting on animals, both about their welfare and also on the larger (and growing) implications around meat production, consolidation, and regulation (or lack thereof). In this month’s editor note, I share some of the stories we’ve covered on this intensely complex, political, and personal issue. Read more

What the Sale of Niman Ranch Could Mean for Farmers

Many in the food world were shocked by this week’s announcement of the sale of Niman Ranch to poultry giant Perdue. As one of the go-to brands behind Chipotle’s antibiotic-free pledge, and a relatively accessible alternative to industrially-produced meat, Niman Ranch has carved out an important niche in a market where demand for antibiotic-free and humanely produced foods are steadily on the rise. Read more

The Cage-Free Egg Battle Goes to Massachusetts

When Massachusetts voters go to the polls next November, they will have the opportunity to decide on a new animal welfare law impacting livestock and chickens raised and sold in the state. The ballot measure’s backers—which include the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals—are now setting out to collect the required signatures and tout the benefits of the proposed law, which would require that any animal raised or sold for consumption in Massachusetts be able to lie down, stand up, fully extend its limbs, and turn around freely. Read more

What it Takes to Make a Decent Living Raising Ethical Meat

When it comes to raising farm animals, Rebecca Thistlethwaite and Jim Dunlop have been swimming against the tide for years. The husband-and-wife team ran a pasture-based pork and chicken operation called TC Ranch on 20 rented acres in California for six years. Now, they’re raising animals and farming crops on five acres in the Columbia River Gorge, an hour and a half east of Portland, Oregon. They’ve seen the challenges of raising animals responsibly first hand, and they’ve also travelled the country interviewing small producers for Thistlethwaite’s first book, Farms with a Future. Read more