THE NFU has warned that cutting the maximum transport time for broilers and laying hens at the time of slaughter could have “enormous practical implications” for the sector.
The current time limit is 12 hours. But proposals put forward have suggested this could be cut to just four hours, including loading and unloading time.
Other changes proposed include temperature limits. No journey could begin if the temperature were forecast to fall below 5C or above 25C unless the vehicle could regulate the birds’ environment.
In its manifesto, the government said that it would ban the exports of livestock and horses for slaughter – something the British government was unable to do unilaterally when part of the European Union.
As part of that work, the broader issue of transporting farm animals is under scrutiny.
The Farm Animal Welfare Committee recently published a review across all species.
It said evidence suggested that higher mortality was associated with transport times over four hours for poultry.
Following its publication, Defra opened a consultation into the proposed changes, which closes on 28 January 2021.
It is open to all, and more details can be found on the government’s website.
NFU national poultry board chair Thomas Wornham said: “As poultry farmers, our main priority is the health and welfare of our birds and the poultry sector has invested heavily in improving bird welfare at all stages throughout the supply chain.
“It is encouraging to see that this has been recognised in relation to the export of day-old chicks.
“However, we are concerned that the proposed regulatory changes to domestic journeys for poultry could have enormous practical implications for both poultry meat and egg producers.
“Furthermore, we could see negative impacts on the resilience of the wider UK food supply chain if some of these proposed changes were introduced.”