Defra to limit chicken stocking density

DEFRA is planning to introduce a maximum stocking density of 39kg/m² for conventionally reared chicken in England.

There is currently no legal maximum stocking density limit for conventionally reared meat chickens in domestic legislation.

Defra said in a report published this week that it had opted for a new compulsory limit on the basis of evidence suggesting that meat chicken welfare can be compromised at higher densities.

It added that less than 10 per cent UK chicken production, by volume, currently operates at stocking densities higher than 38kg/m².

Producers who wish to stock above 33kg/m² up to 39kg/m², will be required to supply supplementary information, such as maximum stocking density for each house, company and private veterinary surgeon, on their Poultry Register Form.

They will need to register by June 30 2010 and must send their form to Animal Health at least 15 working days before stocking at that density.

The report, covering a number of areas, follows a consultation on meat chicken welfare earlier this year. Changes to the Code of Recommendations for Meat Chickens, which will have to approved in Parliament, are likely to come in next year.

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