Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Chicken farmers counter activist claims

Chicken Farmers of Canada is reacting strongly to claims by Mercy For Animals in the wake of that activist organization’s success in lobbying Tim Horton’s and Burger King.

Mercy for Animals persuaded the owners of the two chains to demand that chickens it buys be raised according to the standards of the Global Animal Welfare organization.

It’s not clear whether Canadian standards fall short of the Global standards, but what has drawn an angry response from the Canadian farmers is claims from Mercy For Animals that:

“(Chickens) are bred to grow so unnaturally fast that their legs often can't support the birds' own body weight.

“Many suffer from constant leg pain so severe they cannot stand, and so they spend nearly all their time sitting in their own waste.

“Continual contact with wet litter causes extreme feather loss and painful sores on the chickens' bodies and feet. “Even breathing can be painful, as the air around the birds is acrid with ammonia from the stench of excrement.”

Benoit Fontaine, chairman of Chicken Farmers of Canada, responds that:

“Canadian chicken farms are run by hardworking men and women who take to heart their responsibility to uphold animal health and welfare on their farm and share Canadian values.

“They are proud ambassadors in promoting and defending their good management practices, and believe that there is no defense for the mistreatment of birds.”

The national agency also issued a news release saying:
  •  “Over 90 per cent of Canada’s chicken farms are family owned and operated. The notion of faceless, nameless and heartless ‘factory farms’ is fiction.
  • “Canada’s farmers operate within a system in which they are paid for each bird that is processed. Not only is it common sense for farmers to take care of their birds, its good economic sense as well.
  • “There is a robust, third-party-audited, mandatory Animal Care Program that is administered across all Canadian chicken farms.
  • “In Canada, litter is removed after every single flock and replaced with fresh bedding prior to the placement of new chicks. Chickens are not raised on ‘old’ litter. Barns are cleaned and litter replaced with each flock. Fresh bedding decreases ammonia concerns from previous flocks and barns are monitored for ammonia levels.
  • “The density of Canadian chicken production is lower or consistent with other countries. Canadian broiler chickens are not caged and are raised without the use of steroids or hormones. The number of chicks placed in the barn is pre-determined to ensure that density limits are not surpassed and as they age they continue to have room to roam.
  • “Chicken health is continually improving. Bird mortality, condemnations, lameness, and ascites have decreased significantly over the past decades.”