‘Free-range’ chickens and hens go in lockdown to prevent the spread of bird flu

Photo credit: Brianna Santellan on Unsplash

The chief vets of England, Scotland and Wales announced that starting from 14th of December all chicken and hens will be kept indoors to avert a possible bird flu outbreak. Their products will still be labelled as ‘free-range’.

Experts argue that the stress caused by being locked indoors will make the animals more prone to viruses. “The conditions of intensive chicken farms are uniquely placed to encourage the spread of disease,” according to the report A British Pandemic: The cruelty and danger of supermarket chicken.

The labels will misinform consumers as chicken meat and eggs that were previously sold as ‘free-range’ can keep their title despite all birds having to stay indoors. Under EU law, eggs can still be labelled as free-range when kept indoors for up to 16 weeks.

Experts warned that highly transmittable bird flu would make Covid-19 symptoms seem mild. Since 2013, H7N9, a strain of bird flu has caused 616 deaths worldwide the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation reports.

The risk level of bird flu in the UK has been changed in October from ‘low’ to ‘medium’ following the infection of two swans in the Netherlands.

Words: Begum Kuruc | Subbing: Warshma Chughtai

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