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Crowded house for chickens: Greens

27 May 2008

Crowded house for chickens: Greens

Chickens worldwide must be in a terrible condition, if New Zealand chickens have the best animal welfare standards in the world, Green MP Sue Kedgley says.

A NAWAC report released today says the welfare of broiler chickens in New Zealand is on a par with best practice around the world.

While this is good public relations spin from the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, it is absurd to suggest that animal welfare is in no way compromised by high stocking densities as the report claims, Ms Kedgley says.

"NAWAC are trying to convince us that jamming up to 20,000 chickens into a windowless shed, where chickens have very little room to move and do nothing all day, and where every aspect of its environment is controlled to make it grow as fast as possible, does not interfere with the welfare of the birds. This is absurd."

NAWAC claims that a maximum density of 38kg liveweight per square metre is not associated with compromised welfare.

"A key factor in animal welfare is the ability of animals to express normal patterns of behaviour. Obviously chickens jammed into a shed where they can barely move around or forage for food will not allow them to express their normal patterns of behaviour," Ms Kedgley says.

"It is not surprising that the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee should reach this conclusion, because it is not a genuinely independent animal welfare body, and has sometimes operated as if it is a public relations arm of the industry. It is appointed by the Minister, and contains representatives of industry."


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