Europe agrees new stocking densities for poultry

NEW RULES aimed at regulating the welfare of chickens kept for meat have been backed by the European Parliament.

The new EU directive lays down new minimum stocking densities of 30kg per m2. The European Parliament agreed to allow an extension to 38kg per m2 where additional animal welfare criteria are met, but proposed that from 2013, stocking density should never exceed 34kg per m2.

MEPs proposed rules for all poultry houses including the use of non-?ickering lights of at least 50 lux, a relative humidity of maximum 70 per cent (if outside temperature is -10°C); a maximum 3°C above outside temperature when this exceeds 30C and suf? cient ventilation and permanent access to water.

MEPs also called for an end to beak-trimming and castration of male chickens. The RSPCA welcomed the message that the legislation needed to be substantially strengthened. Peter Craske, RSPCA's Senior European Campaign Manager, said: "This is a good, clear message from Parliament and one which we think ministers must take note of when they make their key decision in the next few months."

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