UK farmer embarks on chicken welfare tour

A young Devon farmer is preparing to set off on a 39-day tour of Europe to campaign for clearer poultry labelling – and she is doing it dressed as a chicken.

Tamsin French will be costumed as a chicken called ‘Rosa’ and will travel through 21 EU member states in 39 days, which is apparently the average lifespan of an intensively farmed meat chicken. Rosa the chicken is calling for clear and mandatory labelling so that consumers can see how their chicken has been kept. The 39Days4Rosa tour is taking place as the European Commission reviews poultry meat labelling this summer.

French’s family farms a 22,000 strong, Freedom Food-assured broiler flock in Devon. She said: “Our free-range chickens live for 56 days, and from the moment they’re old enough to go outside, they can range through tree-covered, landscaped fields where they can express natural habitual behaviour. It’s important that consumers can accurately and easily identify the farm system used to rear their chicken meat. The labelling term ‘free range’ accurately reflects the life of our free-range chickens.”

She will be joined on the trip by Johanna Olsson, an Animal Science student from Berkshire, and Sam White, an animal welfare campaigner from Essex.

French added: “Method of production labelling already exists for shell eggs. It means consumers can tell which farm system was used to produce the eggs they buy and has been an important factor in driving the dramatic increase in the number of cage-free egg-laying hens across Europe.

“The European Commission has recognised that mandatory labelling has also given producers the opportunity to differentiate on price and earn a better, fairer living. I want to see this type of labelling extended to chicken meat – because clear, comparable, point of sale information is very important if higher welfare markets are to grow.”

Rosa’s tour can be followed on Twitter – @39Days4Rosa, #39Days4Rosa, and Facebook – 39Days4Rosa.

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