Cut poultry density, says RSPCA

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.

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