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The RSPCA said urgent action is needed as Tesco spends more than £370 million on intensively reared chicken meat each year, causing suffering to potentially millions of birds.

The charity recently handed over more than 350,000 signatures to Tesco bosses at its AGM, demanding that the supermarket chain urgently improves the welfare of its meat chickens.

The RSPCA said that the potential difference Tesco could make to animal welfare is enormous.

Claire Williams, RSPCA’s campaign manager, said: “Tesco has by far the biggest market share of ‘intensively reared’ chicken meat, and it’s their duty to ensure the animals are raised to good welfare standards. The potential difference they could make to animal welfare is enormous – why wouldn’t they listen to their customers and make this hugely positive change for animal welfare?

“At the moment, the majority of standard chicken meat sold in supermarkets is from specially selected breeds of bird that are chosen because they grow really fast – in the shortest time possible. Most of these birds are actually only 36 days old when they are killed for meat, but already weigh 2.2kg.

“Many often struggle to walk or stand, let alone use a perch, and they can suffer from severe heart defects. It’s a really concerning issue that most people wouldn’t know about, but consumers are switching on to the welfare problems of these birds and they’re demanding action.”

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Trilanco’s poultry product offering has been boosted by an exclusive trade distribution deal of Tusk Trading brands.

Trilanco is now distributing Tusks’ own brands including Agrivite, PestTrappa (Smite, Redtop fly catchers, Scarper), Eton Livestock Appliances and Intelec (infra-red bulbs and lighting).

Martin Balmer, Trilanco’s managing director, said: “Tusks’ comprehensive range of products for poultry is an exciting addition to our business, particularly in this special year, Trilanco’s 40thyear of trading. The ranges strengthen our commitment to providing our customers with a one-stop-shop solution for stock.”

Jim Cuckson, director of Tusk, added: “This is an excellent partnership that will open our brands up to a greater customer base whilst utilising Trilanco’s state of the art distribution facilities to increase efficiencies and facilitate higher customer service levels, and opening up a wider range of products to meet minimum order levels.”

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