A petition set up by a young animal lover calling for supermarket Tesco to commit to improving chicken welfare has reached more than 170,000 signatures in less than a month. The petition urges Tesco to raise their animal welfare standards as RSPCA and other welfare groups call on all supermarkets to sign up to the Better Chicken Commitment.

By signing the commitment, the country’s largest retailer would improve the lives of almost 380 million meat chickens every year.

Last month, the RSPCA revealed shoppers are spending 5 times more on intensively-reared chicken than higher welfare options prompting Georgina Holding to set up the change.org petition which has already been signed by a staggering 172,693 people.

Georgina said: “It’s absolutely time that Tesco, and the other supermarkets, listen to the public, most of whom will likely be their customers, and make this change to improve chicken welfare.

“At the moment, the majority of standard chicken meat sold in supermarkets is from a specially selected breed of bird that are chosen because they grow really fast, in the shortest time possible. Most of these birds are actually only 36 days old when they are killed for meat, but weigh 2.2kg. Many often struggle to walk or stand, let alone use a perch, and they can suffer from severe heart defects. It’s a really concerning issue that most people wouldn’t know about, until now.

“Other concerns are that the chickens are not given enough space to easily move around and be active and flap their wings freely - in fact, by the time they are fully grown each bird is allocated less space than an egg-laying hen kept in a cage, as well as the sad fact that producers are not even legally required to provide the chickens with natural light.

She added: “By signing up to the Better Chicken Commitment, supermarkets like Tesco would be raising the basic level of chicken welfare, which includes not using these fast-growing breeds anymore. While it’s not as beneficial for their welfare as if they were to sign up to a higher welfare scheme like RSPCA Assured, it is still a step in the right direction.”