Broiler ChickenS





103,500 thousand tons of broilers (around 50 billion animals) were produced globally in 2016. The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations predicts global poultry production will continue to increase. Most of the 7 billion broiler chickens killed each year in the EU are kept under intensive industrial conditions: in other words, the management and facilities are such that they hinder the performance of normal behaviours to such an extent that welfare is compromised.  

Broilers are typically reared in large, often windowless barns and slaughtered within 36th – 42nd day of life. This type of farming is facilitated by the absence of mandatory method of production labelling, as consumers are prevented  from driving demand for higher-welfare or alternative systems.

The severe animal welfare problems of broiler chickens stem directly from their genetic selection geared towards extremely fast growth. Environmental conditions such as high stocking densities, bad litter condition and air quality contribute to the extremely poor welfare of these birds during their short lives. European Council Directive 2007/43/EC (the ‘Broiler Directive’) lists minimum requirements for conventional broiler chicken production, but these provisions fail to ensure even basic standards of animal welfare. In 2017 a European Commission study on the implementation of the Broiler Directive could not draw any conclusions on the level of broiler welfare in the EU due to widespread discrepancies between Member States in the implementation of the few animal welfare indicators foreseen by the law.  

The Broiler Directive has an additional major shortcoming in that it does not cover broiler breeders (parent animals). Broiler breeders not belonging to slower-growing, higher welfare breeds are kept on a restricted diet as they live longer than the average broiler chicken and therefore cannot put on as much weight. Feed restriction leads to chronic hunger as well as related welfare issues such as stress. Environmental enrichment for broiler breeders is also rarely addressed.

Eurogroup for Animals

Rue Ducale, 29
1000 Brussels, Belgium

+ 32 (0)2 7400820

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