I HAVE in front of me a book on the birds of Thailand. One of these birds would be instantly recognisable to everyone.

The male is a striking and colourful bird, the red junglefowl, gallus gallus. It is the ancestor of all our domestic chickens, of which there are now more than 25 billion in the world.

There are an estimated 20 million chickens in Herefordshire and this has been causing problems with the waste being spread on the land and leaching into our rivers.


I was reminded of all this by a recent news item reporting proposals to legalise the lifting and carrying of chickens by the legs. According to animal charities, this already happens anyway but is illegal. The Government’s own animal welfare committee has recommended this change to the regulations while agreeing that it is a welfare compromise. This brings up the whole issue of the humane treatment of farm animals.

Apparently, we are still bound by the relevant EU regulation that prohibits the lifting of chickens by the legs.

What are your thoughts?

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It is proposed to change this – apparently, the first instance of the UK removing an animal welfare protection since we left the EU. To be fair, we have improved animal welfare by forbidding the export of live animals for slaughter.

This descendant of the wild junglefowl has become the sad victim of mass production.

According to the RSPCA about 40 per cent of UK egg-laying hens are still kept in cages for most of their lives.

A number of animal charities, including the RSPCA are working to improve welfare and deserve our support.