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Leading Danish poultry producer ends use of fast-growing chicken breed

Danpo, the largest poultry producer in Denmark, is taking a step towards improving animal welfare by eliminating its use of a fast-growing broiler breed which has proven controversial for animal welfare. In doing so it will become the largest producer of slower growing chicken breeds in Northern Europe.

25 April 2020, at 2:21pm

The fast-growing nature of certain breeds can lead to significant welfare problems for chickens, such as difficulties walking, lameness, organ failure and breathing problems. This is why animal protection organisations around the world have for years been calling for businesses to stop using these breeds.

Now, leading chicken producer Danpo has announced that it will be phasing out such breeds by late 2021. Instead, a slower growing chicken, Ranger Gold, which has better health and animal welfare outcomes will be used. With an annual production of nearly 50 million chickens, this new initiative will make Danpo the biggest producer of slower growing chickens in Northern Europe. This could have a big knock-on effect on the whole chicken industry in Europe, since Danpo is able to export to most European countries.

Lately several companies have phased out the fast-growing broiler chickens, including the Danish division of Lidl supermarkets.

“Danpo wants to make a positive impact on animal welfare in the industry. Danpo needs to be competitive in the future. Therefore, I am extremely happy that several companies and consumers are joining our journey for better animal welfare,” says Mark Juel Hemmingsen, CEO at Danpo.

An important step forward Animal protection organizations worldwide agree that a shift from fast-growing industrial chickens to slower-growing chickens is among the most important steps for improving chicken welfare.

According to Open Cages UK, Danpo’s initiative is a game-changer in the industry.

“A few years ago, companies began phasing out cage-eggs. Now we are seeing the same development with fast-growing chicken breeds. This is testament to a very unique breakthrough for animal welfare in Europe,” says Connor Jackson, CEO of Open Cages UK.

As part of the Open Wing Alliance (OWA), a coalition which brings worldwide leading animal protection organisations together, Open Cages UK is committed to improving chicken welfare. The OWA is working to make the European Chicken Commitment (ECC) the new norm for chicken welfare, in the same way as ‘cage free’ has become the norm for egg products. The two most important parts of ECC, in terms of increasing and securing chicken welfare, are the use of slower growing breeds, and affording more space to individual chickens.