Welsh seek chicken welfare opinion

Welsh leaders are calling for comments on poultry welfare prior to drafting regulations that will set down legal limits in areas like stocking density.

The Welsh Assembly Government has launched a consultation on the draft Welfare of Farmed Animals and Mutilations (Permitted Procedures) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations and has asked people to give their opinions on its proposals with regard to broiler production, on issues such as beak trimming and maximum stock density.

The draft regulations lay down various requirements for keeping conventionally reared chickens from the time chicks are brought to a production site until they leave for slaughter.

It is also unique as it contains new provisions for checks at the slaughterhouse on mortality and other indicators of poor welfare, so that any concerns can be taken to the producer and Animal Health, potentially identifying those who may be operating at lower levels of stockmanship.

Currently, over 80% of meat chicken producers belong to the Assured Chicken Production (ACP) scheme, which sets a maximum stocking density of 38kg/m”; however, the Assembly points out there is no maximum stocking density set out in domestic law.

The regulations propose a maximum stocking density of 33kg/m”, however it would be possible for producers to stock up to a maximum of 42kg/m”, provided they are able to meet additional requirements in relation to monitoring of the holding by Animal Health and a cumulative daily mortality rate.

Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones said: “I would urge anyone with an interest in the welfare of meat chickens to respond to this consultation.

“Meat chickens are the last major intensive sector not to have their own welfare rules in the EU. This regulation aims to fill that gap and create a level playing field for all producers.”

The 12-week public consultation on the draft Regulations will run until 22 July. Copies of the consultation are available from the Welsh Assembly Government website: click here.

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