Wildlife presenter Chris Packham is fronting a campaign to raise the standards of welfare for chickens across the country.
Wildlife presenter and animal activist Chris Packham has launched a campaign for higher welfare standards for chickens in the UK.
The TV personality has pushed the blame onto British supermarkets, claiming that they are ‘selling suffering’.
Packham’s campaign calls on supermarkets to commit to the Better Chicken Commitment (BCC), which was created by experts at animal protection organisations.
Joining Packham is The Humane League UK, Open Cages, Animal Equality UK and the RSPCA – all of which have been urging retailers to commit to the Better Chicken Commitment for years.
In fact, only two major supermarkets, Marks & Spencer and Waitrose, have committed to the BCC, and as over one billion chickens are slaughtered in the UK each year, this is simply not enough.
Chris Packham explains, “As a bird lover, I despair at the thought of these gentle, intelligent, and sensitive animals forced to endure such suffering.
“Chickens outnumber all the wild birds in the country but we never see them – because they’re suffering behind the closed doors of factory farms.”
‘The best welfare possible’
Veterinarian Dr Emma Goodman Milne commented: “Whatever your views on eating meat, we should ALL be striving for the best welfare possible for the animals we farm.
“Fast-growing breeds of chicken suit our greed for ever-more productive animals, but at a huge welfare cost to the birds, with musculoskeletal problems all too common
“All across Europe companies are committing to using suppliers who favour welfare and I 100% support this initiative.”
The threat of a bird flu pandemic
What is perhaps most concerning is the threat of a future pandemic on the horizon.
Experts are warning us that factory farming is the ‘single most risky human behaviour’ for pandemics. This is because intensive poultry production provides the perfect breeding ground for a mutating virus.
The majority of chickens are raised in closed, filthy, stressful and crowded industrial facilities with little or no natural light, which is significant as UV light harms viruses.
Thankfully, for now, the H5N1 bird flu virus tends not to spread easily between people. However, should it mutate and become more transmissible, like the common cold, for example, it could result in a death rate of between five and 150 million people, according to David Nabarro, a senior public health expert at the World Health Organisation.
Therefore, it is critically important that welfare standards are significantly improved, to avoid history repeating itself and unleashing a new global pandemic to deal with.
You can sign Chris Packham’s petition to improve poultry welfare standards here.
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Image credit: Open Cages