Sir: Your leading article "Does anyone care about chickens" (28 September) and the photograph and report "Chicken farms 'inflict pain and disease' " in the same edition, are grossly inaccurate and alarmist.
The welfare issues to which you refer are not problems in British poultry farming today. Nor have they ever been of the magnitude or severity, in particular the incidence of heart disease and leg pain, which you imply. To say that each chicken gets a space that is about a quarter of your broadsheet page is highly misleading. Broiler chickens are not reared in cages or otherwise confined. They are free and able to roam around the poultry house. Free-range methods of rearing poultry, which you appear to be advocating, have their own welfare and disease problems which are overcome by conventional housing.
There is no single piece of legislation devoted exclusively to the welfare of rearing broiler chickens, precisely because modern broiler farming methods, in themselves, do not create welfare problems. Nevertheless, chicken welfare is well protected by detailed references in various pieces of legislation governing the rearing, feeding, medication, transport, inspection and slaughter of livestock.
You have pointed out the need for consumers to be properly informed in order to make ethical as well as economical choices. We entirely agree. It is therefore all the more disappointing that the photograph which accompanied your article on the alleged conditions in chicken broiler houses depicted an egg layer house which has nothing to do with the way meat chickens are reared.
Good husbandry, housing and feed, and scrupulous attention to hygiene are the key to good bird health and welfare. British poultry farmers maintain the highest welfare standards and they are proud of their excellent record.
British Poultry Meat
London, WC1Reuse content