United Poultry Concerns December 15, 2006

EU chicken welfare talks collapsed

CIWF News Release
11 December 2006
Compassion in World Farming
Tel: +44 (0) 1730 233 904
+44 (0) 7771 926 005
Fax: +44 (0) 1730 260 791
e-mail: press@ciwf.co.uk
Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) is dismayed to learn that talks aimed at securing an EU-wide Directive to protect the welfare of chickens reared for meat (broilers) have collapsed. The breakdown of the talks was caused by the refusal of France, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia to agree to the very modest package of welfare reforms that were on the table.
Peter Stevenson, Chief Policy Advisor of Compassion in World Farming, says: “The collapse of these talks means that the over 5 billion broiler chickens reared each year in the EU – 850 million of which are reared annually in the UK – will remain without any legal protection on-farm. It is a scandal that meat chickens, which are by far the most numerous of Europe’s farmed animals, will continue to be unprotected by the law. It is vital that these talks are revived as legislation is urgently needed to address the serious health and welfare problems faced by broiler chickens.”
Nearly all broilers are farmed industrially. They are kept in huge windowless sheds that are so overcrowded that, as the birds grow bigger, one can barely see the floor so thickly is it ‘carpeted’ with chickens. Up to 50,000 chickens may be crammed into one of these sheds and there are currently no legal limits on stocking density
The main welfare problems faced by today’s broilers stem from the fact that they have been pushed (mainly through selective breeding) to reach their slaughter weight in about 41 days, which is around twice as fast as 35 years ago. The legs fail to keep pace with the rapidly growing body and often buckle under the strain of supporting it. As a result each year in the EU tens of millions of broilers suffer from painful, sometimes crippling leg disorders.
A recent UK scientific study that examined broilers in commercial flocks owned by 5 major UK producers found that 27.3% of the chickens had moderate or severe leg disorders that impaired their ability to move (note 1). This means that each year over 200 million broiler chickens reared in the UK suffer from lameness. Scientific research strongly suggests that this lameness is painful.
Editors’ notes
1.Study conducted by researchers from the University of Bristol and funded by DEFRA.
2.The Directive in question is the proposed EU Directive on the protection of chickens kept for meat production.
For further information contact
Peter Stevenson, CIWF’s Chief Policy Advisor,
on 01750 82321 or (mobile) 07765 844623;
Or: Laurence Stephenson, Media Officer,
on 01730 236121 or 07920 789251.
Source/Quelle: Compassion in World Farming
Date/Datum: 2006-12-11 17:29


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