footage, stills and a briefing are available from CIWF's press office on 01730 233904 or
07899 757117. Out of office hours call 07899 757117.
A website showing the welfare
issues associated with intensive chicken farming is at www.livefastdieyoung.org For
background information, see item #3 of: http://www.farmedanimal.com/Newsletters/Newslettern14v2.htm
COURT REJECTS CALL TO END SUFFERING OF BROILER CHICKENS
Independent, Michael McCarthy, 28 November 2003
A legal attempt to end the factory farming of millions
of broiler chickens has failed in the High Court. The move,
by the group Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), was thrown
out by Mr Justice Newman, who ruled that there had to be a balance
between the needs of animals and intensive farming's commercial
was based on allegations by CIWF that modern broilers birds raised for meat rather
than eggs grow so quickly that the ones used for breeding have
to be starved for weeks on end. This was in breach of EU
law, CIWF said.
judge rejected their claim, saying he could not extend the law because
of the "stark reality of the position and status animals have
in the human food chain". He said CIWF had alleged that hunger was being deliberately
inflicted on the chickens for commercial gain. "But animals
are exploited by humans for any number of purposes including, in
a number of different circumstances, commercial gain," he said.
The failure of
the case means that 800 million broiler chickens will continue to
be raised every year in Britain in conditions which animal welfare
activists consider unacceptable, and which are an embarrassment
to the Government. "Modern broilers have been pushed
through selective breeding to reach their slaughter weight in just
41 days, which is twice as fast as 30 years ago,"
CIWF said in a statement yesterday. "The bird's legs fail to
keep pace with the rapidly growing body and often buckle under the
strain of supporting it. As a result, each year millions of UK broilers
suffer from painful leg disorders.
cannot be allowed to grow so quickly as many would die before reaching
sexual maturity and others would be too unhealthy to breed. To slow
down their growth rate, the industry feeds them on such tiny rations
that the birds suffer from chronic hunger.
its court case, CIWF argued that this breaches the law requiring
animals to be given enough food to promote a positive state of well-being.
ruling that this law is not being broken, the court ignored the
conclusion of the EU's Scientific Committee on Animal Health and
Animal Welfare that 'the severe feed restriction ... results in
unacceptable welfare problems'.
ignored evidence that the industry gives
the breeding flock only one third to eat of what is given to ordinary
Mr Justice Newman
had been told at the hearing last month that the EU 1998 general
farm animals directive includes clauses which prohibit keeping animals
for farming purposes unless it can be done without detrimental effect
on their health or welfare.
CIWF had brought
the case against the Department for Environment, Food and
Rural Affairs (Defra), which denied that it had
failed to protect farm animals and to adopt a policy
of prosecuting cases where broiler breeder chickens are subjected
to restrictive feeding practices.
was refused permission to take the case to the House of Lords but
can petition the law lords directly. CIWF was also ordered to pay two-thirds of
Defra's costs and faces a bill for legal fees estimated at more
"We are horrified
at the court's decision, which allows factory farming to continue
to inflict horrendous suffering on millions of chickens," said
Joyce D'Silva, CIWF's chief executive. "We will now
be lobbying vigorously for the forthcoming EU directive on broilers
to ban the use of fast-growing chickens, which leads to
many of the birds suffering from painful leg disorders and to the
breeding flock being chronically hungry for long periods.
urge consumers to boycott factory-farmed chickens and to only buy
free-range or organic slow-growing birds."
United Poultry Concerns, Inc.
PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405-0150