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Code of practice for broiler chickens published

Code of practice for broiler chickens published

An animal welfare code which sets down the minimum standards for the farming of broiler chickens will come into effect on 25 July, Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Mr Sutton said New Zealand produced about 77 million broilers a year.

"This is the first code of welfare to be issued under the Animal Welfare Act. It is the culmination of a huge effort from all concerned ? the Poultry Industry Association, who convened the writing group, all the submitters and the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee."

Mr Sutton said the code set down the minimum standards for the housing and care of such birds. It addressed issues such as lighting, feeding, stocking densities and ventilation.

"It is intended to encourage all those involved in the farming of broiler chickens, especially the inexperienced, to adopt the highest standards of husbandry."

The code was first drafted in consultation with organisations such as the SPCA, the New Zealand Veterinary Association, and the Animal Behaviour and Welfare Research Centre.

Mr Sutton said the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee received about 160 written submissions and over 1400 postcards during the public consultation period.

"After careful consideration, NAWAC has found that the code takes into account good practice, scientific knowledge and available technology. NAWAC has advised me that it is satisfied that the proposed standards are what is necessary to ensure that the purposes of the Animal Welfare Act will be met.

"NAWAC has also encouraged New Zealand-based research which will be relevant to this code, especially in relation to leg health and stocking density. This research is underway now. Based on current information, NAWAC believes that the maximum stocking densities should remain as currently practised and as proposed in the code."

The code takes into account five basic needs: provision of sufficient food and water, the provision of appropriate comfort and shelter, the prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment of injury disease or infection, minimising distress and the ability to display normal patterns of behaviour.

The code will be available on MAF's website: http://www.maf.govt.nz/broiler.hmtl

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