20 November 2000
Broiler industry ‘out of control’

By FWi staff

THE broiler industry inflicts painful leg disorders, heart disease and hunger on millions of chickens in Europe each year, claims an animal welfare group.

These charges are laid by Compassion in World Farming in a new report published on Monday (20 November).

It coincides with a meeting of EU agriculture ministers in Brussels to consider the health and welfare of broilers.

CIWF is urging ministers to establish Europe-wide welfare laws for the birds and a ban on imports from countries with lower welfare standards.

Peter Stevenson, CIWF political and legal director, told the BBC Radio 4 Farming Today programme that the poultry trade was a “rogue industry”.

He claimed it was “out of control” in both in the sense that there was insufficient welfare legislation, and for failing to take a responsible attitude to welfare.

This is strongly rejected by the UK poultry trade, which says it has the highest welfare standards in Europe.

CIWF claims that millions of birds suffer crippling leg disorders because legs cannot keep pace with rapid body weight increase.

It says birds reach their slaughter weight at 41 days – twice as fast as 35 years ago.

Rapid weight increase outstrips heart and lung growth, leading many animals to die from heart failure before their slaughter age, claims the group.

CIWF also criticises overcrowding which it says can reach as much as 17 chickens per square metre, leading to disease and welfare problems.

And it says that birds in flocks kept to produce chicks are often underfed.

Each year 800 million broilers are reared in the UK and across the EU the figure is 4000 million.