Welfare in poultry and egg production should be measured according to the stockmanship and management systems in place rather than which farming method is being used, says NFU poultry board chairman, Duncan Priestner.
“If someone really cares about their animals it doesn’t matter what system they have in place, the animals must and will be well cared for,” he said, writing in a blog on the NFU website.
Arguing that most farmers believe too much emphasis is put on the method of production rather than welfare, Mr Priestner (pictured above) added that maybe the time has come for everyone to more honest with labelling and images.
“Let’s not try and fool ourselves into believing that eggs come from farms with a few chickens running in the field behind the farmhouse,” he said. “Over 64 million people eat an unbelievable amount of food including one billion eggs a month. These don’t come from farms with a few hundred hens on them.”
The truth is that 14% of the farms in the EU produce 85% of the food and without these large commercial farms we are going to be very hungry as well as having to pay considerably more for our food.
“There is nothing wrong with these large farms, just public and media perception,” Mr Priestner continued. “The ones that I’ve seen are very well run, delivering welfare friendly food and guaranteeing we have wholesome food on our tables at affordable prices.”