Dinner plate chickens couldn't walk, says research
Research has suggested that more than a quarter of
broiler chickens have difficulty walking due to the fast rate at which they are
According to the BBC, the Defra-funded study
of 51,000 chickens intensively bred
specifically for their meat, found that at about 40 days old 27.6% exhibited
"poor locomotion" and 3.3% could almost not walk at all.
"Our research shows that the primary risk factors associated with impaired
locomotion and poor leg health are those specifically associated with the rate
of growth," said researcher Dr Toby Knowles of Bristol University's Division of
Food Animal Science.
"Worldwide approx. 20 bln broilers are reared within similar husbandry
systems that are biased towards economics of production and detrimental to
involved 176 flocks belonging to five major
chicken producers in the UK.
Other side of the coin - poultry industry retaliates
According to an article on Farmers Weekly, the British poultry sector has
hit back at these media claims.
What the BBC failed to mention, says that article, was that the 3-year
project was carried out from 2003-2006 and that the industry had already put the
findings into place. And on top of this, the main chicken producing companies
had full involvement in the project.
The British Poultry Council (BPC)
stated that the study was
intended to identify risk factors associated with leg health problems and to
provide recommendations that may be used to improve leg health under commercial
Significant improvement in overall leg health
The BPC adds that, following on from the study, chicken producers have
continued to work with the University of Bristol and have changed flock
management practices in line with the study's findings.
These changes, such as longer dark periods to give the birds more rest,
meal-time feeding in the earlier weeks, and the addition of whole wheat to
chickens' feed have significantly improved overall leg health. Additionally,
since the study was undertaken, new genetic stock has been introduced into the
UK chicken sector which has improved the leg health of the breed highlighted in
To comment, login here
Or register to be able to comment.