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Legal Showdown Over Broiler Chicken Welfare

Legal Showdown Over Broiler Chicken Welfare

Posted by Emma on 15th Dec 2023

In a move for animal welfare, activists are reigniting their legal battle against the use of fast-growing broiler chickens. This latest court challenge, spearheaded by Humane League UK, is scheduled for 23rd or 24th April 2024, following an earlier unsuccessful attempt.

At the heart of this controversy is the use of conventional meat chicken breeds, which, according to the Humane League UK, grow at an unnaturally rapid pace, resulting in significant welfare concerns. The charity contends that these practices violate existing welfare regulations, labelling the chickens as 'frankenchickens' due to their accelerated growth and associated health issues.

Despite a setback earlier this year in the High Court, where Judge Sir Ross Cranston ruled in favour of current policies, the charity's persistence led to an appeal granted by Lord Justice William Davis. He acknowledged the need for the courts to consider the opposing arguments surrounding these chicken breeds.

The RSPCA will bolster the appeal as an intervener, shedding light on the realities these rapidly growing chickens face. Sean Gifford, managing director of Humane League UK, emphasises the grim reality of these birds, stating, "The vast majority of nuggets and other chicken products come from these sick 'Frankenchickens', birds who suffer immensely due to their abnormal size."

Animal welfare organisations have consistently raised alarms over the health implications for these breeds, linking their rapid growth to severe health complications, including heart failure, sudden death syndrome, and painful leg and foot conditions.

This legal challenge is part of a broader campaign, which includes the Better Chicken Commitment initiative. This movement encourages food companies to transition to slower-growing poultry breeds, promoting better animal welfare. Major companies like KFC, Nando's, Greggs, Marks and Spencer, and Waitrose, among 330 others in the UK and EU, have already supported this commitment.

As the case approaches, the implications for the poultry industry and animal welfare standards are profound. This legal endeavour seeks to redefine current practices. It aims to catalyse a shift towards more ethical and humane treatment of broiler chickens.

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