New EU rules to reduce the overcrowding of meat chickens have been agreed by the Member States. The rules establish a maximum stocking density of 33 kilos per square metre, or 39 if a stricter level of welfare standards is maintained; It means around 26 chickens.
This is conditional on the application of lower mortality rates. The new legislation also lays down a number of other conditions, such as lighting, litter, feeding, and ventilation. Up to now, there have been no rules on the space that must be allocated for broilers, as they are called.
Detailed records must be kept on matters relevant to the animals’ welfare. Any chickens that are seriously injured must be immediately treated or culled in a humane manner. Further, the Directive sets out training and certification requirements for professionals in operations raising more than 500 chickens.