The fast food chain breaks industry trend by going to smaller birds.

DUBLIN, Ohio – Wendy’s has announced a plan to partner with its suppliers and begin using chickens that are 20 percent smaller for sandwiches and salads. According to Wendy’s restaurants in Canada, sourcing smaller birds has shown consistently high levels of customer satisfaction.

"The quality of our food sets us apart from everyone else," Todd Penegor, president and CEO at Wendy's, said in a statement. "We're making this change because we've seen that smaller birds provide a big benefit for our customers who deserve to eat the most tender and juicy chicken."

All US locations will move to smaller birds at an investment cost of nearly $30 million. The size of the sandwiches will remain the same.

Wendy’s has taken other steps in its quest to improve the chicken it serves including:

• Recrafting the Grilled Chicken Sandwich with a better-for-you option. Wendy's thaws the chicken prior to cooking, creating a delicious sear. The chicken is served on a new multi-grain bun with a fresh cut tomato and spring mix.

• Wendy's also removed artificial flavors, preservatives and colors from artificial sources.

• Wendy's created one of the industry's first Animal Welfare Advisory Councils in 2001 to review and strengthen animal care standards by suppliers. Many of these standards were later adopted industry-wide.

• Wendy's employs a team of in-house animal welfare experts who strictly audit chicken welfare from hatchery to broiler house to processing facility, ensuring suppliers provide carefully formulated and nutritional feed, access to clean water, adequate room to grow, veterinary oversight and proper handling. Wendy's auditors will work closely with suppliers to ensure implementation of the new bird size specifications.

• In 2016, Wendy's committed to eliminate the use of all antibiotics important to human medicine in its chicken by the end of 2017.

The company’s suppliers are working with its supply chain co-op, quality assurance and animal welfare experts to implement the changes across the entire US supply of chicken breasts through the second quarter of 2017 and all suppliers are already raising birds to the new specification.