New Zealand's broiler welfare on track
A recent study has concluded that New Zealand's broiler welfare standards are
equal to or better than those found elsewhere.
The study, undertaken jointly by the Ministry of
Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) and AgResearch,
with help from the Poultry Industry Association, was conducted at 36 farms over
A MAF press release described local broiler conditions as 'world class'.
â€œThe leg health of NZ broilers is better than birds in the UK, Denmark and
Sweden and overall the welfare is world-class,â€ says MAF animal welfare
programme manager Cheryl O'Connor.
The mortality of birds was found to be at the lower end of industry levels
overseas. Leg cull mortality was about half that reported in two recent UK
studies and the proportion of birds with severe leg weakness was about one
quarter that reported in the UK, Denmark and Sweden.
A range of measures were used to assess welfare including: the incidence and
causes of mortalities and culls; skin disorders of the feet, hocks and breasts;
gait score and the incidence of back scratches; birds dead on arrival and
A Broiler Welfare Research Committee was formed to oversee the research
programme. The committee was made up of representatives from public and private
research agencies, the poultry industry, poultry veterinarians and
representatives from the major broiler companies in New Zealand.
The research is based on methods used in a Bristol University survey
that has benchmarked broiler welfare in the UK and is internationally
But not everyone is impressed with the results of the study. Soil & Health Association spokesman
Steffan Browning says that there are still far more humane options available for
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