NCC Releases Revised Programme on Animal Welfare

US - The National Chicken Council (NCC) has released a revision of its Animal Welfare Guidelines and Audit Checklist, the industry-standard programme for assessment of animal welfare programmes and practices in broiler and broiler breeder operations.
calendar icon 1 March 2010
clock icon 4 minute read

Thomas M. Hensley Jr., chairman of the NCC and president of Fieldale Farms in Baldwin, Georgia, explained: "Our revised programme demonstrates the chicken industry's strong commitment to animal welfare and ensures that companies that use the programme will continue to meet the expectations of their customers for the proper treatment of animals."

The revisions were recommended by a task force of industry veterinarians and other experts chaired by Bill Lovette, president and chief operating officer of Case Foods in Troutman, North Carolina, and approved by the NCC executive committee and board of directors.

Mr Lovette said: "Animal welfare has become engrained in the operations of our companies and in the expectations of our customers, the supermarket and restaurant companies that buy our products. It's part of the way we do business. The NCC programme is utilised by companies with the vast majority of production in the industry and is widely accepted by customers."

The revision is the first overhaul of the programme in about five years. Mr Lovette said key differences in the new programme, compared with the guidelines in effect since 2005, include:

  • Greater emphasis on corporate commitment to animal welfare, including a requirement that senior management must sign off on company's animal welfare programme.
  • Each department of the company handling live animals (hatchery, grow-out, catching and transportation, and processing) must have a person in charge of promoting adherence to the Guidelines.
  • Each department must have a disaster response and recovery plan.
  • Employees who handle live animals must be trained in advance and must receive retraining every year, in languages other than English if necessary.
  • Addition of a preface stating principles of animal welfare.
  • Commitment to review the program every two years, beginning with review by scientific advisors in 2011 followed by an industry committee review in 2012.

Mr Lovette added: "Numerous specific changes were made and metrics revised, resulting in a programme that will be more challenging for our companies to comply with but we believe this is what our customers expect."

Among the principles stated in the document are:

  • Poultry raised for food should be cared for in ways that prevent or minimize fear, pain, stress, and suffering.
  • Guidelines for welfare should balance scientific knowledge and professional judgment with consideration of ethical and societal values.
  • It is the welfare of the chickens themselves that is foremost, not how humans might perceive a practice or an environment.
  • Poultry should be treated with respect throughout their lives and provided a humane death when processed for food or when they are euthanised for any other reason.

Further Reading

- You can view the NCC Animal Welfare Guidelines and Audit Checklist documents for broilers by clicking here.

Further Reading

- You can view the NCC Animal Welfare Guidelines and Audit Checklist documents for broilers breeders by clicking here.
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