Freedom Foods has

published a report that aims to silence critics by demonstrating the welfare benefits of its livestock systems.

It compared levels of mortality and hock burn - a common health problem for broilers, caused by sitting in their own droppings - on Freedom Foods farms and conventional broiler units.

Its 'Everyone's a Winner' report claims that its farms had in 82% fewer cases of hock burn, 65% fewer mortalities and a 26% increase in the number of grade A birds.

Dr Marc Cooper, senior RSPCA scientific officer, said: "When chickens are reared to higher welfare standards producers, retailers and consumers can all benefit."