European Commission welcomes agreement on new animal welfare rules for broilers

Monday 14 May 2007

A new Directive on welfare conditions for broiler chickens proposed by the European Commission has been accepted by the Council of Ministers, with certain modifications. Member States will now have until 2010 to implement the new rules.

Markos Kyprianou, European Commissioner for Health said: "EU consumers have repeatedly expressed concern at the welfare problems that can arise through intensive chicken farming. This Directive brings in, for the first time, important rules for the animal welfare of broilers. Not only will this result in better animal welfare across Europe, but it should also contribute to improving the health of the birds and the quality of their meat."

The main provision of the Directive is to reduce the overcrowding of chickens by setting a maximum stocking density of 33kg/m2, or 39kg/m2 if stricter welfare standards are met. The new legislation also lays down a number of other conditions to ensure better animal welfare, such as lighting, litter, feeding, and ventilation requirements. The Directive also allows the Commission to suggest further measures in the future, based on the scientific data and practical evidence collected by the Member States.

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