Monitoring Poultry Welfare in Queensland

A new poultry welfare monitoring programme has been set up in Queensland, Australia, aimed at promoting best practice to enhance welfare and at the same time reduce the regulatory burden on the producer, writes ThePoultrySite senior editor, Chris Harris.
calendar icon 7 January 2009
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The monitoring programme is based on the poultry standards that are written into Queensland's Animal Care and Protection Act, and it is designed to promote responsible care and use of poultry as well as providing a transparency to the community, industry and market to assure them that the highest standards are being met.

The programme is based on a system of audits to ensure that producers are hitting the highest standards and also helping them to achieve the levels to take part in the industry's approved quality assurance programme.

During each audit, the inspectors will be ensuring that:

  • people responsible for the care and use of poultry, including poultry producers and their staff, understand their responsibility to comply with the Poultry Standards
  • poultry and poultry production facilities and systems are managed and staffed to meet the requirements of the Poultry Standards
  • non-compliance with the Poultry Standards is recognised
  • the findings of the audit are clearly reported back to the producer.

The guidelines set out by Queensland's Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries says that as part of the on-site inspection, the authorised officer will usually meet with senior representatives of the farm or company to introduce themselves, and to discuss the intent, scope and process for the audit.

The audit will review records concerning the care, use and welfare of poultry to show compliance with the Poultry Standards.

"This may include review of hardcopy or electronic records, correspondence, reports, or similar relating to poultry management and treatments, facilities, maintenance, policies, procedures and actions taken," the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries says in its guidelines.

The audit will inspect poultry, poultry housing, other facilities and equipment that contribute to compliance with the Poultry Standards.

"This will provide for assessment of the general standards of care and husbandry of poultry, including the provision of housing, feed and water," the DPI&F says.

"The on-site inspection should provide for the clarification and verification of any issues identified in the pre-inspection review of documents. During the inspection, the Authorised Officer will record findings and assessments relating to the Poultry Standards.

"At the conclusion of the on-site inspection, the Authorised Officer has an exit meeting with senior representatives of the facility or company and other key staff to give and receive preliminary feedback.

"This meeting enables the Authorised Officer to highlight and discuss both commendable activities, recommendations for best practice and areas of non-compliance that will require corrective action," the DPI&F adds.

The auditing official will then provide a report for the farm owner, manager or chief executive to show both the good and bad practices on the farm.

The report may include commendations for good practice and high standards of poultry welfare, recommendations for achieving best practice in poultry care and management and any action that is needed because of non-compliance with the Poultry Standards.

If any action is recommended, it is mandatory and the inspectors will follow up to make sure action has been taken. The inspectors might carry out further inspections and demand more documentation, but the length of time that the producer is given to put things right will depend on the seriousness of the problem, the DPI&F says.

If the producer does not put things right, then it could lead to prosecution.

"It is anticipated that most non-compliance will be resolved by carrying out corrective actions within a reasonable timeframe. However, non-compliance that has serious impacts on poultry welfare, or persistent failure to comply with the Poultry Standards may lead to prosecution," the DPI&F says.

Membership of a quality assurance programme could also be an approved method of inspection, provided the scheme meets the criteria for all official poultry welfare standards. The scheme will have to be one approved by the DPI&F.

Further Reading

- You can view the full report by clicking here.

January 2009
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