United Poultry Concerns Chicken Care
ASPCA's Necessary Care of Chickens
Courtesy of Larry M. Hawk, DVM
President & CEO of the ASPCA
In situations in which chickens and other "poultry" cannot easily be rescued, such as poultry auctions, live animal markets, fairs, sacrificial rituals, and slaughterhouse loading docks, the following basic husbandry standards should be met. -United Poultry Concerns

Food and Water

  • Water - access to clean, potable water 24 hours a day. (It's very important that the water be clean and should be changed throughout the day.)

  • Food - wholesome chicken feed, free from contamination and mold (which is highly poisonous to chickens), and provided in sufficient quantity at least once per day. Provide food in sanitary containers and place it so as to minimize contamination but provide free access to the bird.


  • Must be provided to protect the birds from direct sunlight, rain, wind and predators.


  • Birds should be kept in separate cages,* which should be large enough to allow them to make normal postural adjustments. Inadequate space may be indicated by evidence of malnutrition, poor condition, debility, stress, or abnormal behavior.

  • Cages should be well ventilated and well insulated from the elements. ("Lean-to's" are sufficient if adequate protection is provided.)

  • Cages should not be stacked on top of each other, unless metal-type trays are provided in between each cage to collect excrement.

  • Cages should be cleaned at least once daily.

  • Dead birds should be removed immediately and disposed of properly.


  • Should be kept in areas not more than 80 degrees Fahrenheit (chickens develop heat stress easily which can kill them**) but not less than 20 degrees Fahrenheit.***

*Chickens on slaughterhouse loading docks will not be in separate cages but rather crammed into plastic, metal, or wooden crates holding several chickens. It may be less stressful and inhumane to house two or more chickens together, so long as the chickens can make normal postural adjustments, than to house them one to a cage. Chickens are social animals who derive comfort from being together. -UPC Editor

**Chickens don't sweat. They pant. If a chicken is breathing with an open beak, this is a sign of heat stress and/or respiratory illness. -UPC Editor

***Below 20 degrees F chickens are susceptible to painful frostbite. Their combs, wattles, legs and feet can develop infections resulting from frostbite, which can cause them to lose these appendages and limbs. A frostbitten comb shows a yellowish discolored tinge. -UPC Editor

United Poultry Concerns, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that promotes the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl. For more information, visit www.UPC-online.org.

United Poultry Concerns, Inc.
PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405-0150
FAX: 757-678-5070

(Chicken Care: ASPCA's Necessary Care of Chickens )

Home | What's New? | News Releases | Action Alerts | PoultryPress | Resources | Merchandise | Links | E-mail