The RSPCA has slammed new draft national animal welfare poultry standards for not beginning to phase-out caged hens, labelling the standards inadequate and claiming they are not based on science or evidence.
The draft standards, produced by Animal Health Australia, will govern the way about 700million layer hens, meat chickens, turkeys and ducks are treated in Australia’s commercial poultry industries each year, for at least the next decade or more.
RSPCA Australia chief executive officer Heather Neil said the organisation was shocked and outraged by the decision to include caged egg production in draft standards which were released last Monday.
‘‘To put it bluntly, we’re gutted,’’ Ms Neil said.
‘‘These standards are an embarrassment and the community should respond to them as such.
‘‘These standards are not based on science, are not sustainable and will not improve farm animal welfare in line with community expectations.’’
The development of the draft Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poultry began in 2015, and was managed by AHA, with governments, peak livestock industry bodies and welfare organisations involved in the process.
VFF egg president Tony Nesci said emotions were running high since the release of the draft but there would continue to be conversations until the standards were finalised.
‘‘We’re all trying to strive for the same outcome and that is to produce a good, clean and safe egg for consumers and that’s our objective. Always was and always will be,’’ Mr Nesci said.
While he said he was happy to have conversations with the RSPCA, Mr Nesci said the animal welfare group was not the one which had spent years in the industry and invested millions of dollars.
‘‘As far as we’re concerned the welfare of our bird is a top priority, and producing a good, safe egg for the consumer.
‘‘They can spruik all they like but they don’t have the facts ... Hopefully we’ll all come to a good, sensible agreement.’’
The draft standards are now open for public consultation until Monday, February 26 at 5pm.
Then the submissions will be reviewed and the welfare standards revised before being passed on to the federal agriculture minister for review.
■Submissions should be emailed to: [email protected] or posted to: Animal Welfare Standards Public Consultation, PO Box 5116, Braddon, ACT 2612.