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Call for Uniform Broiler Welfare Rules in EU

by 5m Editor
25 August 2009, at 11:30am

UK - The National Farmers Unon (NFU) has stressed that the regulations on poultry welfare - including maximum stocking density - must be the same throughout the European Union.

The NFU has responded to calls from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and other welfare organisations for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) not to allow UK producers to use the same legal stocking densities as European counterparts.

The Broiler Welfare Directive, which came into European law in 2007 and will be implemented in the UK in 2010, sets stocking limits for chickens reared for meat production for the first time. The Directive allows producers to stock to 33kg/m2 to 39kg/m2 if certain welfare indicators are measured and shown not to be compromised. This can be increased to 42kg/m2 if results of welfare monitoring for the previous seven cycles of birds meet Directive standards. This is where the RSPCA has criticised the legislation.

NFU poultry board chairman, Charles Bourns, said that welfare indicators such as daily mortality rates and leg and foot health, which are all issues highlighted by welfare groups like the RSPCA, will be monitored and recorded by Defra vets and farmers as part of the Directive.

"Should the results of this monitoring show bird welfare is lacking, producers can be prevented from stocking above 33kg/m2.

"The Broiler Welfare Directive is outcome-based legislation and allows modern, efficient farms with skilled stockmen to operate to higher stocking rates if they can demonstrate bird welfare is not compromised. The UK government has pledged to cut red tape for industry, and what the RSPCA is proposing is simple gold-plating of EU legislation," said Mr Bourns.