OVER the years, the price of chicken has fallen dramatically and with bargain prices, consumption has escalated.

With over five billion chickens slaughtered annually in the EU, our diet of intensively reared chicken comes at a high cost, both for the birds and for our health.

Birds are now ruthlessly factory farmed, their lives spanning just six weeks from newly-hatched chick to slaughter.

They are so crowded together, the floor on which they stand is barely visible, and of course they stand in their own muck.

Dead and dying birds will be found among the living and within this environment of airborne bacteria, antibiotics are used to promote fast, unnatural growth and combat disease.

These are the conditions in which most of the chicken we eat are reared and it is, therefore, not surprising disease is rampant.

Treating poultry in this way threatens both animal welfare and human health and is a devastating indictment of meat production.

Isn't it time we thought about how we perceive chickens and other farmed animals, not just as commodities for profit but as deserving of our respect and compassion?

Surely the BSE crisis should have taught us there is a price to pay when we abandon compassion in favour of profit.

For more information, write to Compassion in World Farming, 5a Charles Street, Petersfield, GU32 3EH, visit ciwf.org or email compassion@ciwf.co.uk CHRIS POPE

Nurstead Road