Expert Report Aims to Bring Balance to Broiler Farm Welfare Video

US - A video released by Compassion in World Farming (CiWF) showing conditions in West Virginia broiler farms has been examined by experts as part of efforts to bring more critical evaluation to such videos.
calendar icon 22 April 2016
clock icon 3 minute read

The video involves some contract growers for Pilgrim's Pride, and CiWF used the video to criticise broiler growing conditions and genetics, adding that farmers are concerned that diseased birds are ending up on consumers' plates.

The Center for Food Integrity, which is a non-profit organisation aiming to improve consumer trust of the food system, responded by gathering an expert panel of poultry scientists to review the video.

The US' National Chicken Council, which requested the panel, said the response was an independent, third-party review that was supported by Pilgrim's Pride.

The experts came up with some key pointers to help the poultry farmers featured in the video to improve chicken care, such as replacing litter, humanely culling birds with limb defects or walking problems, and improving communication between growers, companies and technical personnel to boost broiler health outcomes.

Farmers were also urged to walk more slowly through the flocks to decrease stress and prevent them injuring each other.

However, the experts said that some of the ways the video was filmed meant they could not assess certain claims properly.

Other implications of the video, such as that levels of contractor debt are bad, were disputed by the experts, in that case because the large amounts of debt were shared amongst a huge industry and could be considered an investment.

They were also very critical of the claims that diseased animals could be reaching consumer food.

Dr Bilgili, from Auburn University (retired), said: "This is a false statement and an exaggeration! During slaughter, broilers are inspected individually and diseased birds are condemned. There is no chance that a diseased bird will end up on a dinner plate."

Dr Webster, from the University of Georgia, added: "I don’t think there should be a whole lot of public concern in this regard."

Further Reading

Click here to read the full report from the expert panel, or click here to view the video from CiWF.

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