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Weekly Overview: Raising the Bar for Poultry Welfare

17 April 2014

GLOBAL - With the news of a call to raise standards still further in the European Union, poultry welfare is focus of this week's news round-up, writes Jackie Linden. Cage-free egg production and better broiler welfare are on the agenda in the EU and Australia, where there is some doubt if demand can be met from domestic production. Japan has reported its first outbreak of H5 highly pathogenic avian flu in poultry for three years.

Animal welfare standards are to be pushed even higher in the European Union.

A five-year plan has been launched to encourage the production, sourcing and consumption of food and products from animals to be from higher welfare regimes across Europe.

The proposals put forward by the Farm Animal Welfare Forum (FAWF) call on the UK government to lead the way in forcing through new animal welfare measures in Europe.

The new measures follow on from the FAWF’s 2008 strategy that called for, among other things, all egg-laying hens to be kept cage-free and improvements in the welfare of chickens reared for meat.

In Australia, a study is underway to examine what free-range production means there as there is great variation between different farms in the sector.

Already, 40 per cent of eggs and 15 per cent of meat chickens are produced free-range and dramatic increases are expected over the next five years as two supermarkets have announced they will phase out cage egg sales in the coming years. It is unclear whether the Australian egg industry will be able to meet the demand for non-cage eggs by 2018.

Students at Chung Yuan Christian University in Taiwan have dressed up as chickens to push the Council of Agriculture to ban battery cages for laying hens.

Animal rights campaigners in Canada have posted a video allegedly showing cruelty to chicks.

In the United Kingdon, top of the Green Party's manifesto priorities for the May elections is action against mega-farms and 'factory farming'.

On bird flu news, an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza from an H5 virus has occurred in Japan, leading to the destruction of two poultry flocks last week. In late March, there were two outbreaks of bird flu of the H5N1 subtype in the P'yongyang region of North Korea. Ten new cases of H7N9 flu in humans in China have been reported to the WHO in the last week.

Jackie Linden

Jackie Linden

Top image via Shutterstock

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