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Activists scold EU welfare directive

Animal welfare groups have hit out at the new EU welfare Directive for broiler chickens, which has now come into force, labelling it a "farce".

The EU Council Directive (2007/43/EC) lays down new rules for producers across the EU, but will not come into force in the UK until the autumn owing to the legislation being deleted passage through parliament by the general election, reports Farmers Weekly.

"This Directive does not protect meat chickens. It is a farce and only maintains what the producers already apply," Eurogroup for Animals director Sonja Van Tichelen said. "The space required per animal is no bigger than a single sheet of A4 paper and we know that in countries outside the EU the animals get much more room per animal."

NFU Poultry Board chairman Charles Bourns said he supported the Directive, which rewards farmers with high welfare and punishes those with poor welfare. "If I had bad welfare on my farm, as per the guidelines laid down by DEFRA, I'd have to stock at 33 kg per sq. m. while if you had excellent welfare you would be able to stock at 39 kg per sq. m. in the UK," he said.

"I think welfare organisations should welcome the new Directive because the farmer with poor welfare standards will actually not be allowed to grow chicken to the same density as the good farmer," he added.

British Poultry Council CEO Peter Bradnock said the industry was positive about the new legislation. "The UK poultry industry embraces this legislation and will continue to support and develop this country's world-leading standards of production," he said. "Welfare has long been a high priority for us and as trade is vital to the UK this legislation gives us a yardstick with which to measure our performance against other countries."

Source: Farmers Weekly

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