The viability of the Australian chicken meat industry depends on the implementation of good welfare practices every day, for every flock, and this has been recognised since the start of the commercial industry back in the 1950s. Not only do farmers have an obligation to protect and respect the birds under their care, they also know that providing a high level of care for birds is what their customers want and the community expects, and it also contributes to productivity and a quality product. The livelihood of farmers therefore depends on them providing for good standards of animal welfare.
Good welfare means more than simply ensuring flocks are kept healthy. Chickens need to be maintained in an environment where they are comfortable, protected from injury, pain and predation, fed optimally and able to express important social and other behaviours appropriate to their age. It is also important that they are cared for by experienced stockperson who understand their needs and behaviours.
The minimum standards for the housing, management and transportation of meat chickens and breeders are laid down in Government and industry-endorsed voluntary Codes of Practice and regulatory standards designed to safeguard their welfare. These standards and guidelines cover the welfare of chickens from hatching to processing.