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Weekly Overview: Poultry Welfare in the Global Spotlight

10 October 2013

ANALYSIS - Animal welfare has been much in the news this week - and not only in the EU but also in the US, India, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and India. We offer a review of the latest developments affecting the poultry industry. Don't forget to celebrate World Egg Day on Friday 11 October!

Following the 'Food Dialogues' discussion held recently in the US on livestock handling and animal welfare, a panel of experts from FAI Farms, based in Europe and South America, offered their views on some of the issues raised.

Based in the UK, Dr Ashleigh Bright, raised the point that the US panel focused more on general animal health and care rather than on those aspects that allow the animals to express their natural behaviour.

Karl Williams, also from the UK, said that higher welfare standards in Europe have been led by the leading retailers and that many producers would be prepared to invest for further welfare benefits if they achieved higher returns for their products.

From Brazil, Murilo Quintiliano highlighted that producers outside the US seem more open to discussion on new technologies and systems that would meet consumer demands for better welfare. In his country, it appears that public interest in animal production systems and welfare develops as soon as they become aware that there are alternatives.

Returning to the US, the National Turkey Federation and the American Meat Institute have released a video presentation of a turkey farm and processing plant hosted by leading animal welfare expert, Temple Grandin, professor of animal science at Colorado State University.

Professor Grandin guides the viewing public with an expert eye on the growth and delivery of 253 million turkeys each year.

She said: "I'm really pleased that the industry wanted the public to see this process because I think we need to show people how it's just done right in a typical plant. There's a lot of good work going on in animal agriculture and I'm glad we're telling our story openly and honestly."

In New Zealand, the Green Party is calling for changes to the Animal Welfare Act to end "cruel farming practices", which appears to include commercial broiler production.

Increasing demand for higher welfare food in Australia has led to retailer, Woolworths, announcing that it will stop selling cage eggs in all cartons and in home-brand products by 2018. The move has been welcomed by the country's welfare campaigners, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals but it has not delighted all farmers.

In India, animal welfare activists are urging the government to ban the use of battery cages for laying hens.

References to animal welfare have been included in the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement.

Last Friday, 4 October, was World Animal Day. On that day, European Union welfare campaigners, Eurogroup for Animals, presented the European Commission with detailed demands for a new framework for future animal welfare.

In the UK, The Farm Animal Welfare Committee has published its review of the implications for animal welfare of farm assurance schemes.

The Committee Chairman, commented: "Overall, we believe that farm assurance schemes have helped to deliver improved farm animal welfare. We recognise the potential for assurance schemes to deliver further welfare benefits for farm animals and with them can come further advantages for producers and consumers."

And finally, Friday 11 October in World Egg Day - so get out there and spread the word about how great eggs are!

Jackie Linden

Jackie Linden

Top image via Shutterstock

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