13 December 2000
Questionmark over broiler welfare

By FWi staff

MORE research is to be carried out into the well-being of broiler chickens, following a meeting of industry figures and animal welfare experts.

Some 800 million broiler chickens are bred for the dinner-table each year in the UK, but opinion is divided over the extent of leg disorders.

Danish researchers say one-third of broilers suffered serious leg disorders, but a seven-year study by the UK poultry industry put the figure at fewer than 2%.

But on Tuesday (12 December), the Farm Animal Welfare Council met industry representatives and agreed that more work was needed on the subject.

Judy MacArthur Clark of the FAWC told the BBC Radio 4 Farming Today programme the seven-year study left some questions unanswered.

She was concerned that it did not show improvements in the level of leg disorders and called for a detailed analysis of findings, which the industry agreed to.

Ms MacArthur Clark also suggested to the Ministry of Agriculture that a major study should take place on flocks with a low incidence of leg disorders.

“By getting a better understanding of whats going on in those good flocks, we can learn lessons which can be put into flocks with higher incidence.”

Peter Bradnock, chief executive of the British Poultry Meat Federation, said the study would help find causes and practical solutions to leg problems.