Today the Dutch court ruled that catching chickens by their legs is forbidden under EU law 1/2005, and that the Dutch Food Authority (NVWA) should enforce this. The case was filed by the organization Wakker Dier. Until now the NVWA has only given warnings to catching companies that catch and load chickens by their legs. The judge has decided that this does not suffice. The judge concluded that, since EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) now also advises the catching of chickens using the upright method, there is no excuse to tolerate the catching of chickens by their legs any longer. He has urged the NVWA to enforce this ruling and has suggested a time line be given to the catching companies for introducing alternative methods.
The judge referred to Dutch poultry farmers who are already complying with the law by using the upright catching method. These farmers, made the switch due to the efforts of Eyes on Animals. We advised them on the benefits to animal welfare and trained their catching companies, helping them to bring the upright catching method into practice, whilst supervising the process.
We are very happy that catching chickens by their legs is now being restricted. We realize that industry cannot change to the upright catching method overnight. Nevertheless, Eyes on Animals has told industry for more than a decade that the way birds are commercially caught (by their legs) is unacceptable and illegal. It is now time for industry to take prompt and serious action, in order to comply with the law and to reduce stress, pain and injuries for chickens as soon as possible.