Poultry farmers will have an additional three years to comply with a new rule making windows compulsory in sheds, after some Red Tractor producers complained it was too difficult and expensive to meet the original deadline.
In April, the assurance scheme said window space equivalent to 3% of floor space would be required by 2020, because natural light was good for bird welfare and consumers expected it.
But some producers said this was unfair on those in the north of the country because additional windows would lead to additional heating costs, as well as costing a lot of install.
A Red Tractor spokesman said producers who already had 1% windows would now be given until October 2023.
“There were a number of examples of producers who had invested to provide windows equivalent to 1% of the floor area, and after consideration by the Red Tractor board it was decided to allow these producers more time to reach 3%. The board recognised that these businesses were already showing a commitment to push ahead to address consumer perceptions of poultry production but do need to come up to the same level as other scheme members are being asked to in a reasonable timeframe – in this case, October 2023.”
In addition to windows, from 1 October 2018 all broiler, poussin and free range producers must provide environmental enrichment in bird housing such as bales, perches and pecking objects.
Environmental enrichment in chicken housing has been shown to improve bird welfare through encouraging birds to be more active. Increased activity has been shown to reduce lameness, hock burn and breast blisters amongst birds leading to improved health and performance.