An animal welfare group is calling for better living conditions for factory-farmed
chickens after lame birds chose to eat food containing painkillers.
Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) wants new welfare laws after scientists carried out studies on
factory-farmed animals crippled through being forced to grow abnormally quickly in overcrowded conditions.
The new study, published in the Veterinary Record, showed the birds actively seek pain relief. It found that
when given a choice of two feeds, one containing the pain-relieving drug carprofen, and one without, more lame
birds than fit birds chose to eat the drugged feed.
And the more lame the chicken, the more its intake of drugged feed increased.
Eating the painkiller-added feed also significantly improved the walking ability of
otherwise lame chickens. Researchers concluded that: "Lame broiler chickens are in pain and this pain causes
them distress from which they seek relief."
Code of practice
CIWF now wants laws to improve the welfare of the 800 million broiler chickens
reared for meat every year in the UK.