British government faces legal challenge over ‘Frankenchickens’ | Animal wellbeing


An animal welfare charity has won a court hearing to challenge the government over the legality of fast-growing broiler chickens in England.

Britain’s leading animal law firm, Advocates For Animals, brought the case on behalf of the Humane League UK over what is known as “Franken chickens”who can suffer from a wide range of health and wellness issues.

The Humane League argues that the use of breeds that grow abnormally large, abnormally fast, breaches the Welfare of Farm Animals (England) Regulations 2007, which state that animals can only be kept if they “can be kept without any detrimental effect on their health or well-being”.

Research has shown that fast-growing chickens, which reach their killing weight in just 35 days, may have higher levels of mortality, lameness and muscle disease than slower-growing breeds.

Analysis by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and the Guardian found that over 39 million broilers, chickens raised for meat, the vast majority of which are fast growing breedswere rejected due to disease and defects in slaughterhouses in England and Wales over a three-year period – around 35,000 a day.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) says it has no policy that condones or allows the use of fast-growing chickens. However, the Humane League says they are the industry standard, making up around 90% of the over one billion broilers slaughtered each year in the UK.

He was twice refused leave for a judicial review against Defra before Lord Justice Singh in the Court of Appeal ruled that a full hearing would be in the public interest.

Edie Bowles, lawyer at Advocates for Animals, said: “Not only is it clear that the law prohibits the breeding of animals subject to suffering; couple it with a control system that is insufficient to protect animals from extreme suffering, and we see a system that is as flawed as it is illegal. This broken system also helps illegal producers compete with law-abiding producers by getting cheaper chickens on the market.

The case also argues that the trigger system, requiring slaughterhouse veterinarians to report problems, sets the threshold too high and that there is unequal treatment of chicken farmers who comply with the law, leading to expense. additional, compared to those who do not.

Claire Williams, head of campaigns at the Humane League, said the hearing was an important step and the charity “will make a strong case that keeping these birds is completely illegal”.

“These animals have suffering coded into their DNA, and we hope the justice system will rightly condemn this,” she said.

A Defra spokesperson said: “We are proud to have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world. All farm animals are protected by comprehensive and robust animal health and welfare legislation, including the Animal Welfare Act 2006, which makes it an offense to cause unnecessary suffering to an animal captive.


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