The third annual International Respect For Chickens Day was held on Friday 4th May 2007. The event is run by United Poultry Concerns whose principal aim is to try to get people to stop eating chicken by highlighting the plight of farmed chickens.
The United Poultry Concerns website states that, “International Respect for Chickens Day is a day to celebrate the dignity, beauty, and life of chickens and to protest against the bleakness of their lives in farming operations.”
The president of United Poultry Concerns, Karen Davis says that, “For a chicken trapped in the world of modern food manufacture, to break out of the shell is to enter a deeper darkness full of bewildering pain and suffering from birth to death. We want to restore chickens to their leafy green world. We want people to do a good deed for chickens and not eat them.”
I was attracted to the idea of an International Respect For Chickens Day as I hate the thought of ill-treated animals and because I thoroughly enjoy keeping the small flock of poultry on my farm. Naively I had imagined that the Respect for Chickens day would be a day for promoting information about this type of bird and not a campaign to stop people eating chickens. I do not want to stop eating chicken meat or eggs for that matter, however even though I am a meat eater myself, I do believe that farmed chickens reared for either meat or egg production should have the opportunity to live a healthy, humane and stress-free life. I agree that animal welfare issues should be paramount to the food and agricultural industries and it is for this reason that I will now only buy locally farmed free range chicken and eggs. Previously I was guilty of shopping for the cheapest chicken or eggs but now I am more concerned with how the animal has been farmed rather than how cheap I can buy my meat.
I am pleased to see that the agricultural industries of Europe and America are constantly striving to improve animal welfare issues.
On the 8th May 2007 Defra reported that, “EU farming ministers have agreed new rules to improve the welfare of chickens across Europe. For the first time chickens reared for meat production will be covered by strict regulations governing the conditions in which they are kept. The new EU directive includes:
- the introduction of limits on stocking density
- cross-European Union (EU) training for the industry
- a possible new welfare labelling regime
- cross-EU data collection and scientific monitoring of impacts on welfare (eg genetics)
- action against anyone breaking the rules
Animal welfare minister Ben Bradshaw said, ‘This is an unprecedented step, ensuring that this major sector has for the first time a set of strict rules to adhere to. The welfare of meat chickens is a major concern to people throughout the European Union. This agreement sends a strong message to the rest of the world that we care about animal welfare.’”
In America, Chairman Boswell of the American Ag Committee said, ”It’s evident that livestock producers are vigorously addressing animal welfare issues.”
Clearly the agricultural industries of Europe and America take animal welfare issues very seriously. Robin Hayes of the American Ag Committee went on to say that, “The animal agriculture industry is committed to ensuring the humane treatment of animals in its care.”
The idea of an International Respect Chickens Day is good in that it does highlight the importance of animal welfare issues. Whether you decide to give up eating meat is your choice. If like me you continue to eat meat, please consider how the meat is farmed