Britain's Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) says the European Commission will within two months propose a directive on raising welfare standards for battery broiler chickens.

Drafts leaked by the society suggest the legislation would set stocking density levels at 38 kilograms live-weight per square metre, with inspectors allowed to reduce this to 30 kg under certain conditions.

Other welfare standards would include all production buildings having a light intensity of at least 20-lux, with the whole floor being illuminated. Lights would be turned off for eight hours in any 24-hour period, with one continuous period of at least four hours.