Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Famous Chefs Joining Effort to Raise the Standards of Chicken Production

An important move. Let’s hope that celebrity status will help lead to the change they seek.


Inside the battery chicken sheds

By Chris Impey

Farming Today, BBC Radio 4

Farmers have defended their poultry farming techniques

A concerted campaign to raise the standards of chicken production has been launched by celebrity chefs, the RSPCA and the animal rights group Compassion in World Farming (CIWF).

They're trying to persuade shoppers that intensively-reared chicken meat and eggs affect animal welfare, and must be changed.

Broiler chickens are birds that have been selectively bred and reared for their meat rather than eggs.

The industry began in the late 1950s. About 75% of the world's food animals are broiler chickens and some 200 billion are produced annually - 800 million of them in the UK.

Windowless sheds

This huge demand for poultry has meant that over the last 60 years commercial breeding has grown in scale.

The farming takes place in large and usually windowless sheds, often containing tens of thousands of birds which have been bred to grow more quickly: typically a broiler reaches a finished weight of 2.5kg within nine weeks. It's sold in the shops for a price of around £2.50.

I hope it will stimulate the industry in[to] being more pro-active in getting over what we're doing better to the consumer

Charles Bournes

Animal welfare lobbyists argue that as a result of a lack of space and quick growing, the birds are prone to lameness as well as heart and respiratory problems.

CIWF claims that one in 20 broilers dies because of a heart attack. And, they say, birds can be left to go hungry, suffer stress and unsanitary conditions.

There's also been fierce criticism of battery egg production, where producing birds are housed in small cages.

An EU regulation due in 2012 will see the banning of such practices with larger cages such as a perch and litter being introduced.

Many supermarkets have already banned or are about to ban battery eggs from their shelves.

'Misleading the public'

But British farmers have fiercely defended their farming methods in the wake of such criticism.

The British Poultry Council says it believes the campaign will mislead the public and maintains that its own standards are high, and protect animal welfare.

Chef Jamie Oliver is raising awareness of chicken production

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Farming Today programme, poultry producer Nigel Joice, who with 800,000 birds runs one of the country's largest indoor operations, was adamant that his poultry were well cared for.

With seven staff employed to monitor the birds, he said welfare was the number one consideration on his farm and that the CIWF figure of one in 20 deaths being caused by heart stress was "absolute rubbish". He said the mortality rate of his flock was just 1%.

But the poultry spokesman for the National Farmers Union, Charles Bournes, believes the campaign is actually a wake-up call for the industry.

He told Farming Today: "I hope it will stimulate the industry in[to] being more pro-active in getting over what we're doing better to the consumer, and to let the public know that if [it] wants improved breeding systems, then it's going to have to pay for it."


Tor said...

Hi Geari,

I just wanted to write and congratulate you on your fantastic blog, 'Famous Chefs Joining Effort to Raise the Standards of Chicken Production', thank you for mentioning our work.

As I’m sure you are aware Compassion in World Farming is the only charity working specifically to end factory farming. We are a small but dedicated team who work tirelessly to promote better treatment of farm animals. We receive no government funding and as such are not in the position to fund large media campaigns; therefore we greatly value your work to promote our cause. It is fantastic to have eloquent advocates such as yourself onboard working as virtual ambassadors, spreading the word about farm animal welfare. Digital online technology has made it possible to reach an audience of millions using the peaceful weapon of the word. It is amazing to note the impact that just one person can have!

It's always great to read comments and feedback from supporters, it helps us know that we are getting things right. I am glad that the information we supply is of use to you. I wish you all the very best with the 'Famous Chefs Joining Effort to Raise the Standards of Chicken Production' blog, what a fantastic resource. If we can be of any future assistance please do not hesitate to get in touch and we'll help you in any way we can.

You may be interested to know that Compassion in World Farming are hosting an upcoming memorial lecture titled "BEEF, BREAD AND WATER: ETHICAL FOOD IN A WARM AND THIRSTY WORLD". We would like to offer you two complimentary tickets for you and a companion to attend as a token of our gratitude for blogging about our work. If you are at all interested please contact me on I would appreciate if you confirm your attendance asap to guarantee your space and to help us with event planning.

Thank you for your support.

Kind regards,


GEARI.ORG said...

Thank you. I hope that others see your comments and contact you.

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