Red Tractor chicken scheme members will be required to have windows fitted in all buildings which house birds by October 2020.
The decision will mean farmers that don’t currently comply will have two and a half years to have windows fitted or opt out of the scheme.
Red Tractor said it had made the decision because consumers had come to expect welfare measures such as windows. In market research into consumer behaviour, welfare is repeatedly listed as one of the top concerns for shoppers when they are buying meat.
Red Tractor’s latest research shows that 83% of primary shoppers say animal welfare is important to them, and they want a label on the pack that reassures them. Consumer demand is something that Red Tractor has to match and, along with advances in science and regulatory changes, is a main driver of how its standards evolve and progress.
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.
Dr Martin Shirley, Chair of Red Tractor’s Chicken Technical Advisory Committee, said: “Having consulted with industry, we have decided to upgrade the existing recommendation for environmental enrichment. Not only does this continue to develop our standards to meet customer expectations but meets our goals of continually striving to improve bird welfare.”
How you will be measured:
- The transparent area of the windows equates to a minimum of 3% of the floor area
- Windows are evenly distributed providing uniform daylight throughout the building
- Windows are double glazed to provide insulation and prevent condensation
- Glass windows are toughened on the inside for added safety
- Shutters are fitted in order that daylight can be closed out if required (e.g. during extremely hot or cold days)
- Windows are open from day 5 during daylight hours unless veterinary advice states otherwise