Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall visits Defra

Chicken campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has visited Defra to highlight a government proposal which he claims will increase overcrowded chicken sheds from 2010.

The Chicken Out! campaign founder, alongside Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), handed over a giant postcard to Farming Minister Jane Kennedy's Private Secretary, Dan Skerten, on behalf of campaign supporters and 216 MPs who signed an Early Day Motion (EDM) on the issue.

The petition is in response to the government department's proposed Legislation and Codes for Broiler Chickens which is due to come into force in 2010.

CIWF head of campaigns Lasse Bruun said: "The government's proposals, if enacted, would undermine the most basic principles of animal welfare.

"Intensively farmed chickens are already suffering from lack of space, lameness, weak legs and lung failure, yet this proposal will only make the situation worse and goes entirely against the public's demand for higher animal welfare."

An EDM sponsored by Lib Dem Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock calls for clearer and more honest labelling on chicken meat and urges the government to improve the welfare of chickens reared for meat. "It is clear from the soaring sales of higher welfare chickens that the British public want to see better farming conditions for chickens," he said.

"Compassion in World Farming and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall are to be congratulated on their campaign against this extreme overcrowding," he added.

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