Lidl has announced it will improve its chicken welfare standards.

The discount supermarket will increase space for its own-label fresh chicken by 20% above current industry standards.

The new commitment, which is expected to start this summer and be completed by 2025, will see the maximum stocking density reduced to 30kg/sqm, in an attempt to positively impact the birds' living conditions.

Last June, we reported how Open Cages UK claimed to find "shocking and systemic animal cruelty" at a farm allegedly associated with Lidl.

Lidl GB chief commercial officer Richard Bourns said: “Animal welfare is a priority for us, and we are dedicated to ensuring all animals within our supply chain lead good lives.

"This initiative is a testament to our strong supplier relationships and underscores our continued commitment to championing British food and farming.

“We’re devoted to working with our partners throughout the supply chain to influence positive change. Through ongoing engagement and longer-term agreements, we’re able to provide them with the confidence needed to make the necessary investments that will help move the dial on animal welfare.

“This approach ensures our customers can count on us to deliver improved animal welfare standards, as we continue to offer them quality produce at market-leading prices.”

Lidl’s latest pledge follows animal welfare campaign group Open Cages’ investigation that revealed millions of supermarket chickens showed excrement burns, known as hock marks.

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"We need to see much more progress from Lidl for its chicken in all markets where it operates"

Connor Jackson, Founder of Open Cages comments: ”I’m always happy to see when a large company improves the space in which the birds can move. This is obviously significant and I hope to see more retailers following this trend.

"Having said that, it’s very important to be aware that this comes as a response to a global campaign asking Lidl to commit to the full Better Chicken Commitment (BCC) just like hundreds of companies have done, including M&S, KFC, and Lidl in France.

"It’s important that Lidl does not end their ambitions for chickens here. I am reaching out to Lidl today to suggest a time when we can discuss how they can stop selling chickens that are bred to grow so fast that they often become sick and cannot walk in a normal fashion.

"Nearly 600,000 people have signed petitions asking Lidl to sign the full BCC across Europe. We need to see much more progress from Lidl for its chicken in all markets where it operates.”