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Red Tractor announce new welfare measures for poultry sector

New welfare measures covering the chicken and duck sectors are being introduced under the Red Tractor Assurance scheme.

Information provided in the Red Tractor’s latest meat and poultry industry newsletter reveals that the Red Tractor meat processing standard relating to hang-on time for chickens has been amended.

Reducing shackle line hang-on time

The maximum permitted live bird hang-on time is now 60 seconds in line with UK legislation. The newsletter says that if processors were using a shackle line for chicken prior to 1 January 2013, the law currently allows a maximum hang-on time of 120 seconds but this is not permitted under the Red Tractor standard.

By 8 December, 2019, the law will require a maximum 60 seconds for all plants undertaking the shackling of live chickens.

Red Tractor already has made significant progress on welfare outcome scoring which forms part of the dairy and pig farm assurance schemes. Photo: E. M. Welch/REX/Shutterstock
Red Tractor already has made significant progress on welfare outcome scoring which forms part of the dairy and pig farm assurance schemes. Photo: E. M. Welch/REX/Shutterstock

Duck assurance

Welfare scoring has also been introduced in the Duck Assurance Scheme following a collaborative approach across the industry.

Ownership of the Scheme transferred from the British Poultry Council to Red Tractor on 1 July and the welfare scoring initiative has been introduced following discussions between groups such as Compassion in World Farming and the industry’s major producers and processors.

The scoring system

The scoring system aims to deliver meaningful data on the condition of ducks at the abattoir.

Scores are given according to the condition of eyes, nostrils, feet, cleanliness and feather cover in the lairage and on the processing line.

Information will help processors identify any problems on farm which are impacting on duck welfare and data can be shared with the Red Tractor Duck technical advisory committee to help drive improvements across the industry.

Red Tractor already has made significant progress on welfare outcome scoring which forms part of the dairy and pig farm assurance schemes.

Last year the duck sector came under attack from Jamie Oliver for failing to provide access to water they could step into.