Poultry lameness still a problem

Letter to the editor.

With the current level of interest in how our food is produced, I am sure your readers will want to know of the scale of suffering faced by broiler chickens reared intensively for meat.

New scientific research shows that over a quarter of chickens have moderate or severe lameness that impairs their ability to move. This means that over 200 million broiler chickens, of the total 800 million reared annually in the UK, suffer from leg disorders. Some of these birds have difficulty reaching the food and water points in the broiler sheds; in the worst cases they can barely move at all.

A key factor in the high level of lameness is that modern chickens are pushed to grow very quickly and so reach their slaughter weight in about 40 days.

The bird's legs fail to keep pace with the rapidly growing body and often buckle under the strain.

The latest scientific study shows that, despite industry claims to the contrary, the level of suffering caused by lameness in factory-farmed broiler chickens continues to be high.

As consumers, we can help avoid this suffering by choosing free range, organic or Freedom Food chickens produced to high standards of welfare.

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