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Animal Rights Campaigners Highlight Welfare Issues in Indian Egg Industry

18 February 2014

INDIA - The Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO) has responded to a news item on ThePoultrySite a month ago, stressing the need for greater attention to animal welfare in the Indian poultry industry.

In a letter to ThePoultrySite, FIAPO describes itself as a collective of animal protection organisations in India. It represents and advocate for NGOs and activists in the Indian animal
protection sector; and also independently conduct research about and advocate for the rights of animals.

Puja Mitra, FIAPO Campaign Manager writes: "We would like to bring to your notice an article published on your web site, on 20 January 2014, titled 'Overview of India’s Diverse Egg Sector' by Dr T. Kotaiah, Managing Director of Indbro Research & Breeding Farms Pvt. Ltd of Hyderabad.

"While we understand the aim of your publication is to raise awareness about developments in the global poultry industry; we are disappointed that the important issue of animal welfare has been neglected while promoting stories of growth in this sector.

"The article by Dr Kotaiah that has been promoted by your site states 'With high egg production with minimum nutritional inputs, today's layer bird is becoming a sensitive machine'. We strongly object to this statement as it depicts the Hen as an inanimate object that is to be used as a product without any consideration for its physiological and psychological welfare.

"In India, almost 100 per cent of commercially produced eggs come from hens living in 'battery cages' on factory farms. Several hens are kept in each small cage, and the cages are stacked on top of each other. Thousands of cages are kept in a single shed. No thought is given to the hens’ welfare. Each hen has less space than an A4 size sheet of paper. The hens are prevented from engaging in important natural behaviors, such as walking, perching, dust bathing, nesting, or even fully stretching their wings. They suffer psychological stress as well as numerous physical harms, including bone weakness and breakage, feather loss, and diseases.

"Common industry practices, such as slicing off parts of beaks without painkillers and controlling the hens’ laying cycles by starving them, cause intense suffering. Male chicks have no use in the egg industry, so newly hatched male chicks are killed by grinding them up. Animal scientists have selectively bred hens to continue producing eggs even when they are kept in horrible conditions.

"The article goes on to state, 'The larger layer farms are not expanding further because of disease threat, labour costs, environmental concerns and local issues'. What perhaps your publication has neglected to mention, is that there are no regulations to combat these threats of disease and environmental pollution, as the industry is driven by a desire to obtain maximum profit without any consideration for the welfare of the animals or the environment, or even the staff who work in poultry farms. Non-therapeutic and indiscriminate use of antibiotics in chicken feed only increases the risk of disease to the animal, handlers and consumers. Untreated wastes from these mega poultry factory farms pollute the ground water and soil of the surrounding areas.

"Articles such as these only highlight the production values of the poultry industry without providing any guidelines on the welfare of the unfortunate animals, who are raised as commodities and not as sentient beings deserving of care and the right to live a natural and cruelty-free life.

"We urge you to publish balanced articles that also highlight the danger of expanding the poultry industry in India including genetically modifying an intelligent and sensitive animal as the hen, without making any provisions for animal welfare.

"This mindless rush for profit at the cost of the welfare of the poultry bird highlighted through this article by Dr Kotaiah promoted by your site; violates the fundamental duty of every Indian citizen as stated in the Constitution of India, Article 51 A (g) which is “to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures”.

"We hope that you will take cognizance of the terrible conditions that prevail in poultry farms in India, which compromise the health and rights of these animals, and we urge you to provide information that helps your audience to improve animal welfare standards in this industry," concludes Puja Mitra.

ThePoultrySite News Desk

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