Marks & Spencer has announced that it will only stock RSPCA Assured higher welfare chicken across its fresh produce range from next autumn.
The supermarket chain has become the first major retailer to exclusively stock slower-growing, higher welfare chicken across its fresh produce range.
All M&S fresh chicken will also be labelled RSPCA Assured - the charity's dedicated farm animal welfare assurance scheme.
The decision follows the launch of the Better Chicken Commitment (BCC), urging retailers to procure all their chicken to a selection of higher welfare criteria by 2026.
RSPCA chief executive Chris Sherwood said: "We are delighted that M&S has made this fantastic commitment to animal welfare, which will make them the leading retailer in the UK on chicken welfare.
"The most commonly used breeds of meat or ‘broiler’ chickens have been specially bred and genetically selected over the years to grow very fast in a short space of time.
"Many often struggle to walk or stand, and can suffer from severe heart and circulatory issues, as well as usually not being given enough space to easily move around and be active.
"By simply switching to using only slower growing, higher welfare breeds of chicken, retailers can make an enormous difference to the lives and welfare of millions of chickens reared in this country every year for their meat."
M&S food managing director, Stuart Machin said the announcement would lead to a step-change in UK farming standards.
"M&S has a long history of leading on animal welfare standards, working with our M&S Select farmers we know and trust," he said.
"We were the first retailer to sign up to the Better Chicken Commitment, the first major retailer to move to 100% Free Range eggs and all our pork is 100% outdoor bred."