BROILER transport times are likely to be cut to four hours under new government proposals put forward by Defra.
There are also plans to limit transporting birds if the external temperature does not fall within the range of 5C-25C.
And, over time, an ‘expectation’ that the poultry industry will move towards using thermo-regulated lorries.
These new conditions would apply to all journeys over 65km.
The details have been published by Defra as an intended ‘policy direction’ following a broad consultation over changes to animal transport legislation.
Temperature limits could prove problematic for the sector.
Research by the NFU looking at weather data over the past 20 years suggested that limiting transport by weather forecasts would have meant farmers losing on average 56 days on which they could move birds each winter.
The limit to broiler transport times does not include loading and unloading, a measure designed to prevent ‘rushing’.
“By excluding loading and unloading time, we aim to remove the risk of potential welfare issues arising from rushed loading and unloading to meet journey time requirements.
“We believe this is a balanced approach, which takes on board the industry’s concerns about the impacts on existing journeys whilst addressing the scientific evidence on welfare risks and mortality rates for broilers on journeys longer than 4 hours.”
Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “We are legislating to ban the export of live animals for slaughter and fattening and are now developing other measures to improve the welfare of animals during transport.
“We have listened to the concerns raised relating to our proposed changes to transport regulations and have made changes to address these.
“We will continue to work with industry on the remaining details.”
We have contacted the British Poultry Council for comment.