UK breeders to sell slow-growing birds
Slower growing breeds of chickens are being introduced
by the British poultry industry following consumers' demands for more
Guardian.co.uk states that companies behind the breeding stock that
annually supplies 860 mln broilers for the UK table are bringing in the new
breeds to take advantage of the burgeoning market, after years of producers
being accused of raising hens in as short a time and as cheaply as
The RSPCA, which certifies higher welfare standards through its Freedom
Food scheme, believes the partial reversal of the faster farming method could
lead to a doubling of hens labelled under its scheme, from 5% at the end of 2007
to 10% by the end of this year.
Increasing numbers of birds reared indoors now live up to 2 weeks longer
than the 5-6 weeks allowed them in an industry where only 1 in 20 birds is
raised through an outdoor system via free-range and organic flocks.
Typically, consumers pay an extra 60 p to Â£1 for an RSPCA scheme bird. The
charity's scheme is the only "higher welfare" programme to demand that birds do
not grow by more than 45 g a day. This rule was introduced in 2006, and last
February toughened to cover a bird's genetic propensity for growth, following
suspicions that some producers were simply feeding fast-growing birds
The RSPCA believes the arrival this year of the "new" chickens "tailored"
to meet these demands will give added impetus to welfare improvements.
further reported that chicken breeder Aviagen says its newest breed of bird is
"moving in that direction", and a bird developed by another large breeder,
Hubbard, already meets the RSPCA requirements.
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