Unnatural; Campaigners Challenge Factory-Farming Plight of Millions of Chickens

By Poulter, Sean | Daily Mail (London), April 9, 2003 | Go to article overview

Unnatural; Campaigners Challenge Factory-Farming Plight of Millions of Chickens


Poulter, Sean, Daily Mail (London)


Byline: SEAN POULTER

THE suffering endured by millions of 'factory chickens', which are bred to grow unnaturally fast, is to be challenged in a cruelty test case.

The birds frequently develop painful leg deformities, together with heart and lung problems, because their bodies cannot cope with the speed of growth produced by decades of specialist breeding.

Welfare groups have brought the action because they believe the Government should have blocked the development of these modern breeds, which grow up to four times as fast as a traditional chicken.

The rate of growth has reached such phenomenal proportions that farmers have to cut feed rations to slow it down, causing chronic hunger, the groups say.

The legal move follows repeated warnings about the cruelty involved from the Government's own advisers on the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC).

In natural circumstances, a traditional chicken breed would take five to six months to reach adult weight of 4.4lb.

That is three to four times longer than the 41 days required by the 800million 'factory chickens' bred annually in the UK.

These broiler chickens are raised on an industrial scale in vast sheds containing up to 20,000 birds.

They are kept in constant light and given medicated feed to stem disease outbreaks.

Most are vaccinated against salmonella to protect consumers, but millions of birds carry the far more dangerous bug campylobacter, the biggest cause of food poisoning in the country.

Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) yesterday revealed that it has filed papers at the High Court seeking permission to challenge the lawfulness of the Government's policies on the fast-growing chickens.

The group argues that the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has been negligent in allowing the creation of breeds that inevitably endure pain. …

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