January 2008: There are mixed reactions among farmers to Hugh’s Chicken Run, the programme being screened nightly on Channel 4, about chicken production systems.

The British Poultry Council has said it thinks it is misrepresenting the high standards in modern British chicken farming.

Poultry houses are scientifically designed and equipped to ensurethe ventilation and other needs of the chickens are properly providedfor, it says.

It says it is significant that the temporary premises used to rearchickens in this experiment failed to obtain Assured Chicken Productioncertification, and the apparently poor welfare outcome is notunexpected.

But writing on the FWiSpace discussion forums, some farmers have been more supportive of the show.

Freeranger said he hoped the show would remove some of the tarnishfrom poultry farming’s image as well as helping to push sales of morewelfare friendly birds.

I think (or certainly hope) the real losers in this are going to bethe supermarkets. By refusing to participate from the beginning andalso refusing to go on Jamie Oliver’s programme they look as thoughthey have something to hide.

Animal welfare

Moore2 said: Even if programmes like these only shift people from£2 chickens to £2.99 chickens that should be enough to make stridesin animal welfare and also margins for farmers, processors, andsupermarkets.

Hareley farmer added: I saw Hugh being interviewed on Richard &Judy. He mitigated the industry’s reluctance to talk to him by sayingthey were frightened of losing their supermarket contracts, which I canunderstand.

I think that if in the long run he can persuade the public thatchicken should be more of a luxury product it can only be a good thing.

Confusion or discussion?

A number of posters indicated that the programme raised as many questions as it answered.

Courier asked whether viewers would be told how much it was costing to rear birds in the different systems.

This led to the following post by Jacobus: What I would also beinterested to know, given that the majority of processing-retail costs(slaughter plucking packing packaging transport chill cabinet space)would be identical per chicken whatever its source, does a much higherpercentage of the retail price end up in the pockets of the producersor is much of it syphoned off by the retailers?

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