The Danish government and key Danish political parties have made a landmark decision which will significantly improve the lives of the nation’s broiler chickens. They have agreed to phase out the state procurement of fast-growing chickens and have vowed to back a ban on the farming of fast-growing breeds at EU level.
Denmark’s Broiler Commitment
Denmark is leading the way with this strong commitment, which has four key points:
- Establish a working group shedding light on animal welfare challenges in relation to the production of broiler chickens in Demark.
- Phase out the production of fast-growing broilers at EU level.
- Campaign under the auspices of the State Animal Welfare Label with effect from 2023. The campaign must contribute to promoting demand for slower growing broilers.
- Phase out the Danish government’s procurement of fast-growing broilers.
The working group will prepare a report on the animal welfare standards in Danish broiler production, including the conditions for parent animals, to support the phase out of fast-growing broiler chickens.
This decisive action is part of a larger animal welfare package that will be announced in the next few months according to Jacob Jensen, the Danish Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries.
What are the problems with fast-growing broiler chickens?
Danish political parties are responding to the overwhelming scientific evidence that shows that fast-growing chicken breeds suffer a myriad of health conditions that seriously affect their welfare.
Due to their oversized bodies, fast-growing breeds have poor walking ability and high rates of lameness. They spend most of their time (85%) sitting doing nothing, instead of behaving like chickens who naturally like to perch, peck, forage, scratch and play. Many of these birds suffer a range of health issues, including heart defects, organ failure, muscle diseases, high rates of foot and leg lesions as well as compromised immune systems.
This is why using slower growing breeds with proven welfare outcomes is a key tenet of the Better Chicken Commitment, and why NGOs continue to campaign for legislation that bans fast-growing breeds.
Olga Kikou, Head of Compassion in World Farming - EU, said: “It is a step in the right direction that Denmark has decided to end public procurement of fast-growing broiler chickens, and that they want an EU-level ban on this cruelty. There is clearly a dissonance between on the one hand what science says and what citizens want, and on the other – the legal protection for farmed animals and the way governments are spending their money. The EU is slowly moving towards fixing this, as the fast-growing chicken breeds can well be prohibited if the draft animal welfare laws make it to the end of the sausage-making machine. Let’s not forget that the revision of the animal welfare legislation will also bring other groundbreaking changes, like the promised ban on the use of cages for farmed animals, which 1.4 million Europeans called for and after which the European Commission committed to action. We are very much looking forward to the draft laws and we call on the institutions to resist a fierce co-ordinated attack by vested interests.”