Animal welfare charity takes UK government to court over ‘frankenchickens’

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Animal welfare charity The Humane League is taking the UK government to court over the continued breeding of ‘Frankenchickens’ – birds bred to grow phenomenally but suffer serious health problems as a result .

If passed, the decision will require the Ministry of Food Environment and Rural Affairs [Defra ]to “take responsibility” and stop letting the practice continue.

The charity says improving the welfare of broiler chickens will mean both better meat for the public and greater profits for farmers. More than 140 companies, including Marks and Spencer and Waitrose, have already joined its Better Chicken Commitment Welfare Policywhich aims to eliminate some of the worst problems associated with factory farming.

According to The Humane League, 90% of chickens raised for meat grow “abnormally” rapidly and reach “staggering sizes”.

“For decades, the animal industry has selectively bred chickens to grow faster and faster – these animals are growing 400% faster than they did in the 1950s,” said Amro Hussain, manager. Public Affairs of the Humane League UK.

“Today they reach slaughter weight at just five weeks old – they are just babies. The result is huge, often immobile birds that struggle to walk, get burned by their own droppings, suffer heart attacks and whose flesh is streaked with fat.

“We call them ‘Frankenchickens’ because we have created a genetic monster – animals that live a life of inescapable misery.”

READ MORE: Pig farming branded a ‘disgrace’ as 40,000 healthy animals ‘wasted’

Additionally, the Humane League claimed that health complications such as “hock shank” and “green muscle disease” can also interfere with the meat they produce.

Under the Farm Animal Welfare Regulations 2007, animals can only be lawfully kept for farming “if it is reasonable to expect, on the basis of their genotype or phenotype , that they can be detained without any adverse effect on their health or well-being”.

Attorney Edie Bowles, representing the Humane League, said, “Science shows that fast-growing chickens slaughtered for meat cannot be kept without such harm.”

“Our position is that keeping these birds is illegal.”

The Humane League’s application for judicial review will be a first leave hearing at the High Court, scheduled for March 22.

If the league’s argument is successful, the review will proceed to a full hearing.

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