20 April 2000
Cut poultry density, says RSPCA
LAME poultry are suffering considerable pain, according to new research by the RSPCA.
The animal welfare charity has issued the results of a study where lame and healthy birds were brought together to feed.
A batch of food treated with painkillers was consistently chosen by lame birds, and their walking improved as a result.
The healthy birds didnt choose the treated food.
In the light of these findings the RSPCA wants to see reduced poultry stocking levels and a move away from faster growing birds.
The charity is also calling for labelling to indicate where birds have been raised in more welfare-friendly ways with less lameness.
The RSPCA wants the government to introduce regulations to ensure producers provide good welfare for poultry.
A spokesman for Premier Foods, Britains second largest chicken producer, said the problems highlighted by the RSPCA were not something he recognised on his companys farms.
He told the BBC Radio 4 Farming Today programme that the recently launched assured chicken production scheme ensured consumers could choose a product reared to high standards.
The spokesman said Premier Foods had introduced slower-growing birds, and argued that consumers had the right to buy products produced over a range of husbandry systems.
He also claimed that RSPCA research was conducted on a limited sample of birds.