Saturday, February 11, 2012

Plans to dump the poultry welfare code

Here is a post from the website of the Free Range Farmers Association which is worth repeating:

Changes designed to water down the Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals, Domestic Poultry are now being planned by the Australian Egg Corporation. It has arranged a forum to discuss the issues in Sydney on April 4 and it is vital for real Free Range farmers across Australia to have their say.
James Kellaway, AECL Managing Director, always claims that the organisation represents every industry sector when AECL actions make it clear that the Egg Corp only cares about the big operators and takes no notice of the free range sector (unless it's the intensive 'free range' version).
Help us to make your voice heard by telling us what you think about watering down the Model Code which establishes clear guidelines for the free range industry. The fundamentals of the Model Code are stocking density and beak trimming. The current Code is crystal clear on beak trimming - it must only be a last resort when other methods of controlling feather picking and cannibalism have been tried and failed. But the Egg Corporation accredits farms to it Egg Corp Assured programme when they have beak trimmed or de-beaked their birds at day old or soon after - completely contravening the Code which the Egg Corp still claims is a mandatory requirement of its accreditation scheme.
The issue of stocking density was clear to all in the industry until a couple of years ago. It stipulates a maximum outdoor stocking density of 1500 hens per hectare. But then some of the 'smart' operators felt they could exploit what they saw as a loophole and use a clause in the appendix to the Code which allows higher stocking densities for meat birds.
They claim (now supported by AECL) that this permits an unlimited number of birds and some farms are running up to 50,000 hens per hectare - all with the blessing of AECL. The Egg Corporations says it plans to close this 'loophole' by introducing its new standard (which it wants to call Egg Standards Australia) which will impose a ceiling of 20,000 hens per hectare, remove all restrictions on beak trimming and allow birds to be locked up in sheds for 25 weeks.
If you want your voice to be heard at the Egg Corp forum on the Model Code, please contact FRFA with your thoughts.

You can contact FRFA at
This fight has been ongoing for about two years and there are no signs yet that the Egg Corporation will take any notice of egg farmers - so we hope to show politicians the duplistic nature of the AECL's plans.

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