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Poultry Industry Welcomes New Welfare Code

Poultry Industry Welcomes New Welfare Code

The New Zealand poultry industry welcomes the signing of the Animal Welfare Broiler Chickens (Fully Housed) Code of Welfare by the Hon. Jim Sutton, Minister of Agriculture.

This Code, designed to ensure careful and humane treatment of chickens produced for poultry meat, has been through a number of stages of development and consultation over a two-year period. Required under the Animal Welfare Act, a draft Code was first developed by the broiler chicken industry, reviewed by NAWAC and then opened for public consultation. There was extensive opportunity for comment from interested parties and the feedback received informed the final document.

The final Code has been fully reviewed by NAWAC members and Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry specialists. The Code applies solely to the broiler chicken industry and there is a separate Code still being developed for the egg farming industry.

“This Code has endorsed the high standard of performance of the broiler chicken industry in this country. Much of what is prescribed in the Code is current practice,” says Michael Brooks, Executive Director of the Poultry Industry Association of New Zealand.

“The standards of animal care, stockmanship, housing and processing are very high in this country and have been since the development of the industry in the 1950s.

“This is the healthiest country in the world in which to grow chickens. None of the three main diseases that ravage flocks in other countries are present here. These include Infective Bursal Disease, Newcastle Disease and Avian Influenza. There has been a strong determination amongst growers to ensure New Zealand remains free from these diseases.

“The impressive health status is a result of strict quarantine regulations backed up by high standards of animal care and welfare practices,” says Michael Brooks.

“While the Code is a highly technical document, the public can take a great deal of comfort from the standards that are outlined. It covers areas such as hatchery management, rearing and growing, housing (including lighting and ventilation) and facilities and stocking densities.” As part of the implementation of the new Code, NAWAC and the poultry industry will be undertaking a welfare audit over a period of five years to monitor the effectiveness of the Code and to derive comparisons with other countries.

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