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Initial BPC comments on EU proposal on welfare of chicken kept for meat

by 5m Editor
20 June 2005, at 12:00am

EU - BPC welcomes the proposal to fix common standards for chicken welfare across the whole EU. The proposal will pull together several existing welfare rules for chickens and elaborate new detailed requirements in a single Directive. However, we would like it to be applied to all chicken placed on the market not just to chicken reared in the EU.

Initial BPC comments on EU proposal on welfare of chicken kept for meat - EU - BPC welcomes the proposal to fix common standards for chicken welfare across the whole EU. The proposal will pull together several existing welfare rules for chickens and elaborate new detailed requirements in a single Directive. However, we would like it to be applied to all chicken placed on the market not just to chicken reared in the EU.

The proposal still needs some fine tuning but in general we support the Commission's recognition that good welfare is determined more by the standards and conditions in houses and by the management of the birds, including proper training for stockmen, than by stocking density itself.

In this respect we think the Commission has not taken full account of the latest scientific study of the effect of stocking density on chicken welfare by Professor Marian Dawkins, which would support a maximum stocking density higher than the 38 kg/m2 proposed provided the other conditions are being met. The proposal goes far beyond other EU welfare legislation because not only does it fix detailed input requirements for farms but it also lays down official monitoring requirements for the output from every farm stocking over 30 kg/m2.

Detailed requirements are set for everyone with more than 100 chickens under all farming systems, with additional specific requirements for any one wishing to stock higher than 30 kg/m2. Importantly, and unlike any other welfare legislation, the proposal requires every flock from every farm to be monitored by the official veterinarian in the slaughterhouse against prescribed welfare criteria.

Any flock measuring above prescribed thresholds for these welfare criteria will trigger a report back to the farm concerned and an official inspection, and a compulsory reduction in stocking density if that was found to be the cause of the deficiency. This output monitoring would provide rapid and independent feedback on the actual welfare conditions on every farm for every flock.

Given this very powerful output monitoring approach we believe that there is less need for such detailed prescription on some of the input requirements. We would not wish to see new science and innovation in rearing methods and investment in new housing and upgrades stifled by overly specific requirements on the ways chickens must be managed. We are very supportive of high welfare standard for chickens and this is an integral part of the Assured Chicken Production Standards under which around 90% of chickens are reared in the UK. This proposal will ensure that by and large those high standards will be reflected in legislation across all EU chicken production.

Further Information

To read the EU proposal, please click here

Source: British Poultry Council - 15th June 2005

5m Editor