Poultry industry defends “mega-farms” tag

09-07-2018 | |
Photo: Hans Prinsen
Photo: Hans Prinsen

Concerns about the size and scale of UK poultry meat production have been rebuffed by the head of the UK’s influential poultry lobby group.

Richard Griffiths, British Poultry Council chief executive, has rejected claims from animal welfare charity Compassion in World Farming, which argues that the spread of “mega-farms” is cruel and unnecessary and that farming birds intensively indoors is inherently bad for welfare.

Writing in the BPC blog, Mr Griffiths argued poultry houses are purpose built with “all the bells and whistles” of technology that farmers need to care for flocks than can number in the tens of thousands of birds.

“Computer controlled systems ensure the comfort of the birds through automatically adjusted ventilation and lighting. Large fans ensure an air-space that is clear with a balanced temperature, and lighting systems, including windows for natural light, give just the right combination of light with periods of darkness. Nutritionally optimised feed and fresh water are always available through automated systems. All the elements are monitored, checked and reviewed multiple times every day, with alerts sent direct to farmers when something’s not quite right.”

Mr Griffiths highlighted the skills, expertise and dedication of the farmer, who has support from a network of skilled professionals, including specialist poultry vets, feed specialists, environmental consultants and commercial advisers.

Vets, he argued, played a huge role in maintaining the health of the national flock: “Their work is so impressive that since 2012 we’ve seen production increase by 11% while the use of antibiotics has dropped by 82%. This is a factor of both the people involved with a mindset focused on improvement and productivity, and the successful environment that the birds grow in.”

And he argued that science and technology was continuing to move forward with new poultry houses taking into account the optimum style of perches and biomass boilers: “No detail is left unexamined, and it is in combining the results of this attention to every detail that creates such as good environment for the birds.

“Everyone deserves to have confidence in where their food comes from and trust that it’s safe, wholesome and nutritious. We do that, and it’s mega.”

Tony Mcdougal Freelance Journalist