New animal welfare standards for the chicken meat industry

New National Animal Welfare Standards for the Chicken Meat Industry have been developed and are now being made available to industry. This Poultry CRC project builds on an earlier RIRDC project A Welfare Audit for the Chicken Meat Industry undertaken through the Department of Primary industries in Victoria in 2001.

Although some companies implemented the results from the original welfare audit project, there is a need to increase uptake so that industry is well positioned for future legislative standards that are intended to be developed under the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy over the next few years. To facilitate this, a set of ‘hands-on’ manuals for growers and company personnel have been prepared, in a similar way to the recently produced biosecurity manuals.

Many, if not most, of the activities required to meet the new industry animal welfare Standards will already be performed as part of existing daily management practice. Michelle Edge, from Symbio Alliance Consulting who was part of the project team, suggests that “all you’ll need to do is to just check that the practices in the Standards are covered in your daily business practices and associated record keeping and you’ll be able to demonstrate the required animal welfare outcomes”.

An industry steering committee oversaw the revision of the audit into the new Standards and the hands-on manuals derived from them. The committee included a company representative, Dr Margaret MacKenzie, and a grower, Mr Gary Sansom, both of whom have brought great depth of industry knowledge to the revision of the audit into the new Standards.

The next step will be providing ‘train-the-trainer’ workshops for growers and company personnel over the next few months to enable them to complete the transfer of the new Standards to industry, by industry.

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