Northern Ireland Assembly consults on new broiler welfare rules

The Northern Ireland government has launched its own consultation with poultry farmers on new welfare rules for broilers.

Back in January, DEFRA launched its own exercise with English producers, in implementing the EU directive.

The new European rules for the first time set down a legal baseline for all producers across the EU, including those who are not within any voluntary assurance schemes.

Launching the consultation, agriculture minister Michelle Gildernew MP said: “The EU proposals to introduce harmonised EU welfare rules for meat chickens is a significant step forward on this issue.”

She said: “The new rules provide a package of measures which cover the conditions in which chickens are kept and also requires additional monitoring in slaughterhouses that can be used to identify poor welfare standards.

“The Directive is, therefore, unique in that it measures welfare outcomes and provides for a feedback mechanism, thus potentially identifying those producers who may be operating at lower levels of stockmanship.”

Referring to the local implications of the proposals, she added: “I have no doubt that our poultry industry already adheres to the highest possible welfare standards. For most of our producers, the new EU requirements will build on systems and processes already in place.”

The closing date for responses is 15 June 2009.

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