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Malaysian Academic Opens Animal Welfare Debate

by 5m Editor
31 December 2009, at 8:40am

MALAYSIA - A respected professor has given a presentation and shown a video to raise awareness of broiler welfare, even in developing countries.

The sight of any chicken dishes, either fried or curried apart from a host of other chicken-based culinary delights, would tend to stimulate one's taste buds.

But do we ever wonder about the welfare of this poultry life before its meat, in the culinary form, reached our dining table.

Bernama reports that a video show during a recent talk by Universiti Putra Malaysia's (UPM) Professor Dr Zulkifli Idrus was an eye-opener on how the live chickens are handled before being brought to the slaughter house.

Professor Zulkifli was giving a lecture on 'Poultry Welfare in Modern Agriculture, Opportunity or Threat' at the UPM campus in Serdang.

The video showed that right from the very first minute, the birds were roughly grabbed from their enclosures before being shoved and cramped into basket-like containers aboard a lorry.

Speaking to Bernama after the lecture, Professor Zulkifli said the public awareness on the welfare of livestock in Malaysia is still 'zero'.

He said such awareness needs the participation of all parties, including the society and those directly involved in the poultry farming industry.

"Awareness on the welfare of the livestock should be there, as long as the animals are under our care and as long as they are alive.

"The same with chickens and ducks, let's say that the life of the chicken is six weeks before being slaughtered. The breeders should take care of this livestock during its life span".

According to Professor Zulkifli, the perception that the chicken would finally end up in slaughter houses is the main reason why their welfare is being neglected.

He added that there is no emphasis on livestock's welfare in the third world and poor countries like those in Southeast Asia and Africa. In the West, like the European Union (EU) countries and United Kingdom, this is a major issue. But in developing countries, the issue is considered trivial as the priority is on providing enough food for the population, therefore there is no room to think about the welfare of the livestock, he said.

"We should realise that the responsibility is not only on the shoulders of the livestock breeders. Consumers should also play their role. If they want the livestock breeders to take the initiative, then the consumers should be willing to also share the high costs shouldered by the livestock breeders," he told Bernama.