The Codes for animal welfare for poultry are being reviewed for the first time in over 15 years.
The result will be one Australia-wide Code on animal welfare for poultry. Two main documents, along with an independent Farmed Bird Science Welfare Review and many supporting papers, have been released for public comment:
In total these documents stack up to over 700 pages. So we have condensed some of the basic information you need to know in a fact sheet.
We were deeply disappointed to see that, despite early expectations for the process, there was no mention of battery cages being banned.
If they go ahead, the proposed Draft Standard will make things worse for consumers, genuine free-range producers and birds raised on poultry farms.
AFSA’s vision is to enable regenerative farming businesses to thrive. We recognise that Australians want food that is grown locally and without damage to animal health and the environment. Food produced on small regenerative farms is in demand. We believe that it is critical that government heeds changing community expectations by supporting the growth and viability of regenerative agriculture while protecting the environment and human and animal health.
The reforms have been in progress since mid 2015. They were intended to reflect the latest science on animal welfare, recommended industry practices and community expectations. Instead, the integrity of the drafting process is being questioned after egg industry representatives were recently accused of engaging in ‘systemic collusion’ with the NSW Government to thwart moves to outlaw battery hens.
The outcome was that the banning of battery cages was kept out of the Draft Standards. With NSW having the highest production rates of caged eggs in the country, this collusion ought to have been expected.
For many reasons, such as there being over 10 million hens kept in conventional cages, false and misleading claims about egg-labelling and many others, AFSA is concerned for the future of genuine free-range systems for raising poultry on farms.
Australia should ban battery hens as in countries like Canada, New Zealand, Switzerland and Austria. We should follow the example of the ACT where the use of battery cages is prohibited.
Whether you’re a poultry farmer, egg or chicken consumer, chef or animal rights advocate, your views on the Draft Standards are crucial to the consultation process and to the future of poultry welfare in Australia.
We know that you care about animal welfare as much as we do. In 2016, nearly 10,000 consumers, farmers, retailers and advocacy groups provided input to the new national standards to define ‘free-range’.
The welfare reforms are just as important to secure the future of genuine free-range poultry farming in Australia and gives us a chance to reduce regulatory uncertainty faced by producers.