Leading poultry vets in Scotland spoke this week at the British Science Festival about the health of free-range chickens. According to Dr. Barry Thorp of the Royal School of Veterinary Studies, free-range chickens are more likely to catch disease, get injured, and die earlier compared to chickens kept in cages, according to a report in Meatingplace and the Daily Mail.

“I think free range has some merits but it also has many problems as well. I don’t see it having a long-term sustainability and that worries me,” said Dr. Thorp.  Dr. Thorp also spoke to the concern of chickens catching diseases from wild birds, especially bird flu found in 10 percent of ducks in the United Kingdom.

The Daily Mail quoted Dr. Victoria Sandilands of Scotland’s Rural College as saying that free-range birds have a mortality rate of 8 to 10 percent – above the death rate of 2 to 4 percent for caged hens – and free-range hens are twice as likely to have fractured bones than those kept in cages.