New EU broiler report criticised

New EU broiler report criticised

The Broiler Directive had promised to deliver higher welfare through the use of animal based indicators. These indicators should allow farmers and authorities to assess and adjust on-farm rearing conditions that impact welfare. However, the report failed to say anything on whether the only binding indicators on cumulative on-farm mortality and the voluntary indicator on prevalence and severity of footpad dermatitis have been used to improve animal welfare.

The main reason is that such indicators are not being used consistently across the Member States and that a common strategy to address the underlying problems on farm is missing. So European animal welfare groups have criticised this new report from the EU Commission about broiler production, saying it lacks ambition for effective broiler production in the European Union.

The Commission said in its report that Member States were aware of the steps needed to implement monitoring systems for footpad dermatitis and two thirds of countries had established such systems. It added that random inspections of farms was still an important part of any control system, in particular to check stocking densities and that management and housing and other resources were appropriate. It concluded that “different maximum stocking densities have been applied in different Member States, and the possible negative effects of high stocking densities have been mitigated by applying higher requirements and monitoring using cumulative daily mortality rates as an indicator.”

More than 60% of broiler farms in Europe operate a stocking density of more than 33kg/square metre, deviating from the Directive’s base rule. The Commission’s report added: “High mortality rates are often blamed on conditions at hatcheries and/or parent flocks but there are no known actions by authorities to address this suspicion. The proper assessment of the more technical requirements, such as ventilation which influence chickens’ welfare, is also a challenge for authorities.” The Commission said it would continue to work with Member States to disseminate examples of god practice for controls and with Member States and industry on guidance on farm management.