Red Tractor said it had approved the Hubbard Redbro breed of broiler for its Enhanced Welfare module. The Assurance scheme said the breed struck the right balance between “economic viability and sustainability challenges of moving to a higher welfare model for chicken production.”
Supply chain costs associated with meeting the Better Chicken Commitment (BCC) has often been cited as a barrier for its widespread adoption, which in turn can make it an unaffordable option for families.
Red Tractor said it had accepted the breed following extensive research conducted by international industry experts, producers and key stakeholders in retail and foodservice.
The Enhanced Welfare module – which was launched by Red Tractor in 2020 – meets all the requirements of the BCC. It uses slower growing chicken breeds and requires more space, natural light and enrichment and is built upon the core Red Tractor standards which cover traceability, animal welfare and food safety.
Studies have found that the Hubbard Redbro, which is already on the BCC approved list, has higher welfare outcomes when compared with other breeds, used for indoor production. Crucially, research also showed that it has a lower feed conversion ratio compared with other slower growing breeds, meaning that it is a more economically viable and sustainable breed for farms of all sizes.
Red Tractor is the first UK assurance scheme to include the Hubbard Redbro bird on its approved breed list.
Red Tractor CEO Jim Moseley said: “Over 95% of chickens in the UK are Red Tractor assured, which puts us in a unique position to provide a sustainable solution for tackling industry challenges.
“We have worked with NGOs, farmers, vets, scientists, animal welfare and food production experts to deliver a robust process for evaluating breeds. This process has enabled Red Tractor to evaluate data from both commercial the broiler breed welfare assessment trials which demonstrated that the Hubbard Redbro was commensurate in welfare outcomes with breeds already on the BCC approved breeds lists.”
Global Director of Food Business at Compassion in World Farming Dr Tracey Jones said: “We are delighted that the Hubbard Redbro has been accepted under the Red Tractor Enhanced Welfare module. This intermediate growth rate bird has gone through a rigorous approval process, aligned to the BCC, and will undoubtedly help move the market for higher welfare chicken forwards.
“Having another commercially viable breed approved with good welfare outcomes is an important enabler for companies who have signed up to the BCC and wish to use Red Tractor as their third-party auditor for higher welfare indoor production.”