Give chickens a better life

I am all in favour of celebrity chefs and TV programmes crusading for a better life for chickens. Buy organic and free range, turn down animal suffering.
Unfortunately this government at the moment can neither deliver a better life for chickens nor for people.


  1. haddock
    January 7, 2008

    People on minimum wage cannot afford the 'luxury' of the chattering classes, the organic chicken. The low paid are suffering a far higher inflation rate than the ridiculous figure of 2.1% that the National Guesswork Authority feed us….. in the real world of the low paid, inflation on food, fuel, fares, rent/mortgage payments, council tax etc is more like 10%.
    People who know the poultry industry, and your average celebrity chef or MP does not fit that description, will be able to assure you that high production and profit does not come from distressed stock.
    Free range stock, pigs or poultry, do not enjoy natural conditions… both are woodland/jungle creatures and it as unnatural for them to be roaming free in fields as it is for them to be warm and dry in a shed.
    I, too, are all in favour of celebrity chefs crusading ( are we allowed to use that word any more?); it would be good if they knew more about the issues; otherwise it could all be another Children's Crusade.
    What about a crusade to allow all dogs to have a better, more natural life, let's turn them all out on the streets to hunt in packs.

    Reply: Some good points, with a deliciously wicked last line.

  2. Bazman
    January 7, 2008

    I heard on Radio 4 this morning that Britain's GDP per person has now overtaken Germany, France and even America! The main problem I see in Britain is the unevenness of the distribution of wealth and the social problems this causes. The Conservatives were bad on this to the point of not caring and Labour has talked the talk, but not walked the walk. This will be the downfall of Labour as it was for the Conservatives.
    I actually prefer the standard chicken over the free range one in the largest supermarkets. I find the free range ones a bit tough. Chickens rights? Tell that one to most of the worlds population. Bad Karma though….

  3. DennisA
    January 7, 2008

    As a previous NFU SE Regional Poulltry Committee Chairman and NFU National Poultry Committee Chairman, I believe I have a right to post on this issue.

    I was involved in the Poultry Industry for some 44 years, having kept chickens on Free Range, in Battery Cages, (this system is for eggs only, not meat chickens), and on Deep Litter, (barn production). I also taught Poultry Husbandry for many years at Agricultural College.

    Compassion in World Farming should live up to their name and go around the world to check the conditions that chickens will be kept in, once they have closed down the UK industry.

    The recent video footage is not new, they have done it before, but this time they have got a couple of so-called celebrity chefs on board. Yes, chickens live in artificial light, but do have dark periods and any Compassion in World Farming burglar can break in with their video phone camera, chase the chickens around in the dark and produce some suitable pubic footage. They should be prosecuted for trespass, not lauded in the press.

    To the camera, broiler chickens appear crowded for the last week of their growing cycle, but they always have ample room to feed and drink. If a chicken's welfare is compromised, it will not grow efficiently and would be more likely to catch disease, so good welfare is good economics.

    I have had many challenges with CIWF over the years and the real problem is one of perception.

    The idea of so many chickens in one building is outside the average experience, but space allowance is pro rata.

    However, as a broiler grower myself, I spent much of my life with my chickens in those same buildings. Environment is paramount to the economic performance of chickens and if compromised, results are disastrous. It is in every chicken farmer's interest that the birds under his control are very well looked after.

    I grew broiler chickens for many years until low prices forced me out. The production from my farm was not replaced within the UK, it will simply now be part of the imports from Brazil or Thailand, where UK companies have their own farms, to get away from the obsessive and unsustainable rules and regulations in this country. So much for food miles.

    Regulations not just on stock welfare, which are very rigorous, no complaints about that), but also the massive social legislation, such as 12 months maternity leave, paternity leave, full holiday and other unwarranted privileges for a casual worker doing maybe 16 hours or less per week.

    These are costs that do not apply in Brazil and Thailand, neither do they have Climate Change Levy, or the ultimate gem, Industrial Pollution, Prevention and Control. This legislation from the EU was previously reserved for the likes of chemical factories such as ICI.

    It means that a broiler grower now has to have a licence from the Environment Agency, costing around

  4. Steven_L
    January 9, 2008

    Personally I like cheap chickenmeat, and preferred Whittingstall when he was teaching us how to catch and cook chalk-stream Jack Pike. Now that he has entered the ranks of the Jamie Oliver-esque celebrity chef, with a niche on all matters animal-health, perhaps his time would be spent more productively demonstrating the correct procedure for attaching a statutory eartag to a one-week old calf under the watchful gaze of its Mother.

    Of course it is far easier to jump into the limelight by attaching oneself to the bangwagon of ethical consumerism than it is simply to share a few old fashioned recipes, a fact Whittingstall has no doubt stumbled upon. Whilst he and his ilk rake in mega-moolah from trendy TV stations, ordinary folk, from across the socio-economic spectrum will continue to indulge in cheap chicken meat, be it of the fast-food southern-fried variety, the J Sainsbury ready-meal or home-cooked.

    The fact is I don't need the likes of Whittingstall to tell me what to eat anymore than I actually need him to teach me how to cook. As much as I enjoyed the inaugural 'River Cottage' series, and welcomed Whittingstalls' culninary ideas and cultural education, its' endless repeats on various satellite television channels are a luxury I would rather go without than a night in cooking tikka masala over a nice Rioja.

  5. Bazman
    January 9, 2008

    The butcher in my area of town is now a tile shop as he retired, But still operates from the rear of the tile shop two days a week. The old guy will argue and discuss supermarkets, meat and prices any time you are in there. He is right! You do find the meat from a traditional butcher far superior to the supermarket. The chicken, and in particular steak has a better texture. It's not organic, but come from local producers. Not much more expensive than the supermarkets. Worth the extra effort to go there.

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