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Urgent action needed to stop chickens suffering

News Section Icon Published 28/07/2010

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has adopted two scientific opinions, one on chickens reared for meat, the other on the breeding flock (the parent and grand-parent birds).

Both opinions are highly critical of the welfare standards for chickens; standards which Compassion believes have actually declined in recent years.

"Chickens are selectively bred to put on weight in the quickest possible time," says Compassion Chief Executive Philip Lymbery.

"Growth rates have increased four-fold in recent decades and birds are now slaughtered for meat at just 40 days of age or less. The EFSA report stresses that there are serious welfare concerns about skeletal disorders in broilers that lead to lameness which they say is probably painful in most birds."

"Among the breeding flock, food intake is often severely restricted otherwise their fast growth would damage their health," adds Philip. "As a result, these chickens can be stressed, frustrated and chronically hungry throughout their short lives."

"Thanks to our Chicken Out! campaign, the plight of factory farmed broiler chickens is increasingly known. However, the plight of their parents is much less understood. EFSA scientists have identified a range of serious welfare problems associated with modern-day chicken breeding. We are working to urge the European Commission to propose tough new laws to stop the suffering involved in chicken breeding as well as rearing. Your support, as always, will be invaluable."

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