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Poultry: Animal Welfare

Volume 497: debated on Wednesday 14 October 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he plans to take to ensure that British Standards relating to the welfare of chickens reared for meat production are maintained following the introduction of EU Council Directive 2007/43/EC; and if he will make a statement. (291816)

We are currently considering the responses received to our 12-week public consultation on the transposition of council directive 2007/43 for the protection of chickens kept for meat.

At present there is no specific detailed legislation in place regarding meat chicken welfare other than the very general requirements contained within the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007. Council directive 2007/43 is a big step forward into looking at the welfare of meat chickens and is unique in that it is the first piece of EU welfare legislation which looks at welfare outcomes as well as prescribing the conditions in which chickens should be kept.

The new European rules do therefore for the first time produce a legal baseline for all producers, including those who do not participate in any voluntary assurance schemes, while complementing, not replacing, existing voluntary assurance schemes of which many farmers are already a part.