Major changes being proposed around livestock transport could have enormous practical implications for the UK poultry meat and egg sector. The National Farmers’ Union has warned that the plans – part of Government proposals based on a 2019 Farm Animal Welfare Committee (FAWC) evidence review – could lead to negative impacts on the resilience of the wider UK food supply chain.

The main proposals affecting poultry are:

– Journey times for transporting broiler chickens to slaughter are to be limited to 4 hours, including the loading and unloading of birds.

– Journey times for transporting recently hatched chicks are to be limited to 21 hours (extending to 24 hours with Government agency permission).

– No journey to take place for any poultry species if the forecasted external temperature for the journey is below 5°C (40°F) or above 25°C (77°F), unless the vehicle can regulate the internal temperature within this range for the duration of the journey by means of a thermo-regulation system (such as those in vehicles used to transport day old chicks). Poultry is exempt from the proposed ban on live exports for slaughter or further fattening for slaughter within 6 months of export.

Thomas Wornham, NFU national poultry board chairman, said the main priority for poultry farmers was the health and welfare of birds, adding the industry had invested heavily in improving bird welfare at all stages throughout the supply chain. “We are concerned that the proposed regulatory changes to domestic journey for poultry and the export of chicks could have enormous practical implications for both poultry meat and egg producers,” he added.