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Australia has announced new animal welfare standards and guidelines for poultry. This comes after the independent poultry welfare panel commissioned by all Australian agricultural ministers in 2019 recently completed its work.

This follows an extensive process of stakeholder consultation, and the consideration of contemporary animal welfare science and community expectations. These poultry standards adding form part of a suite of Australian animal welfare standards and guidelines that aim to synchronise national animal welfare legislation and provide clarity and consistency to industry, consumers and trading partners”.

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Standards are the animal welfare requirements that will be implemented in state and territory legislation. These farm animal welfare standards must be met under law. Guidelines are voluntary and are recommended practices to achieve desirable animal welfare outcomes.

The most significant improvements to poultry welfare in the standards and guidelines include:

  • Conventional layer hen ‘cages’ will be phased out over 10 to 15 years. Depending on the age of the current infrastructure, this process should be completed no later than 2036.
  • Broiler breeders should receive environmental enrichment.
  • Changes have been made to the minimum light intensity and required periods of darkness, ventilation, and temperature parameters for all species. Chickens must now be provided a minimum total of six hours of darkness within a 24-hour period, with at least one uninterrupted period of darkness of at least four hours.
  • Breeder ducks must have access to bathing/dunking water.

Read more about the South African poultry industry’s fight against dumping here.

Furthermore, from this year, all new chicken cages must be installed with nest areas and layer hens must also have access to perches or platforms and a scratch area.

Australia’s ABC News reports that, according Australian Chicken Meat Federation executive director, Vivien Kite, most chicken producers are already implementing much of what is proposed in the new standards. – Adapted from Poultry World