The Independent Poultry Welfare Panel commissioned by all Agriculture Ministers in 2019 has completed its work on developing new Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poultry (the poultry standards).
This follows an extensive process of stakeholder consultation, and the consideration of contemporary animal welfare science and community expectations.
The Commonwealth and States and Territories have worked together to agree to release the poultry standards, with each State and Territory considering implementation options during 2022, with further discussions by all Ministers in early 2023.
The poultry standards are one of a suite of Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines that aim to harmonise national animal welfare legislation, providing clarity and consistency to industry, consumers and trading partners.
Standards are the animal welfare requirements that will be put into effect in state and territory legislation and must be met under law for farm animal welfare purposes. Guidelines are voluntary and are recommended practices to achieve desirable animal welfare outcomes.
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The Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poultry should be read alongside the Decision Regulation Impact Statement (DRIS). The DRIS considers the impacts of the poultry standards on businesses, individuals, governments, and the public. The DRIS can also be found on the Office of Best Practice Regulation website.
Improvements to poultry welfare in Australia
The most significant improvements to poultry welfare in the standards and guidelines made by the independent panel include:
- A phase-out of conventional layer hen ‘cages’ over 10 to 15 years (at the latest by 2036), depending on the age of current infrastructure.
- A requirement to provide environmental enrichment for meat chicken breeders.
- Changes to the minimum light intensity and required periods of darkness, ventilation, and temperature parameters for all species.
- A requirement to provide breeder ducks with access to bathing/dunking water.
The Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poultry replaces the now outdated Model Codes of Practice, which were voluntary:
- Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Domestic Poultry
- Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Farming of Ostriches
- Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Husbandry of Captive-Bred Emus
The Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) and addendum
In accordance with Council of Australian Governments (COAG) guidelines, a formal Decision Regulation Impact Statement (DRIS) was produced by an economic consultant. The DRIS considers the financial and regulatory impacts of four policy options, centred around adoption of the standards. These options represent a refinement to those originally presented in the 2017 Consultation Regulation Impact Statement and reflect the decisions of the panel.
A supporting addendum was also developed to address feedback provided back to the economic consultant.
The poultry standards were developed by the Independent Poultry Welfare Panel – commissioned by Agriculture Ministers from all jurisdictions in October 2019.
The panel completed its work in late 2021, which followed an extensive stakeholder engagement process that attracted significant public interest, and included input from a Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG).
Chair, Ms Renata Brooks
Renata has had 20 years of experience on governing boards and 13 as a senior executive in state public sector agencies.
Renata is currently deputy chair of the board of Suncare Community Services and a member of the board of the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust. She contributes to independent planning decisions as a member of the Regional Planning Panel for Southern NSW and undertakes assignments through her own consulting business.
Following an early career as a veterinary practitioner she joined the NSW Government’s animal welfare branch where she worked for 11 years including as Manager.
In her executive career in NSW Government agencies, she led various divisions comprising policy, regulatory, technical and service functions in sustainable development of primary industries, land and natural resource management, biosecurity and scientific research, development and extension.
Renata is a Graduate and Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and received a degree in Veterinary Science with first class honours from the University of Sydney and a Graduate Certificate in Bioethics from the University of Technology, Sydney.
Professor Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher is a production animal veterinarian with research and policy development expertise in animal welfare stretching over 25 years. He is Director of the Animal Welfare Science Centre, headquartered at the University of Melbourne.
Andrew previously worked for the CSIRO where he headed the animal welfare research group. He has been involved in animal welfare standards development in Australia and internationally through the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).
Andrew has a Bachelor of Veterinary Science (Hons) and a PhD and is a Fellow of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists in Animal Welfare.
Mr Mark Townend AM
Mark is the Chief Executive Officer of Spinal life Australia. Prior to this he had been the Chief Executive Officer of RSPCA Queensland for 19 years.
He holds various positions including being a member of the Queensland Government’s Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, Board member of Regional Development Australia, and Chairperson of the Queensland Koala Advisory Council. Between 1988 and 1995, Mark was a councillor on Logan City Council.
Mark is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a Fellow of the CEO Institute. He received the Prime Minister’s Centenary Medal for distinguished service to the community. In 2014 Mark was made a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to the community, particularly through animal welfare services.
Terms of Reference
The Terms of Reference for the independent panel set out that the standards will:
- improve animal welfare outcomes within Australia’s poultry industries
- reflect contemporary animal welfare science
- consider current industry practices, cost and benefits, new technologies and practicalities of implementation
- align with the values and expectations shared by the Australian community
- meet the expectations of trading partners
- consider possible domestic and international trade impacts
- provide the basis for nationally consistent and effectively enforced regulation.
The Agriculture Ministers’ Forum agreed to the panel’s terms of reference in October 2019.
The panel will finalise the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poultry. The panel will ensure the Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poultry meet the following objectives:
- Provide the basis for nationally consistent and effectively enforced regulation
- Improve animal welfare outcomes within Australia’s poultry industries
- Reflect contemporary animal welfare science, taking into account current industry practices, cost-benefits, new technologies and practicalities of implementation
- Align with the values and expectations widely shared by the Australian community
- Meet the expectations of trading partners, taking into account possible domestic and international trade impacts.
The panel will report to and receive direction from the interjurisdictional Agriculture Senior Officials Committee (AGSOC), through an Australian Government Department of Agriculture secretariat. The panel will plan a process to complete a final draft of the Poultry Welfare Standards and Guidelines by the middle of 2020, and discuss progress with AGSOC mid-way through the process.
The panel will consist of two or three impartial people, one of whom will chair the panel. Panel members will be recommended by AGSOC and chosen by AGMIN based on their expertise and experience in government policy processes, poultry research, or regulation related to the agriculture sector.
Panel members will be paid at a per diem rate negotiated with the Australian Government Department of Agriculture. Travel entitlements and allowances will be at the level provided for Senior Executive Service officers of the Australian Government Department of Agriculture.
Scope of work
The panel will:
- Review existing documentation on the draft Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poultry
- Plan a process to complete the Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poultry within a timeframe set by AGSOC
- Consult with stakeholders (including Animal Health Australia as appropriate) in all jurisdictions that have poultry industries, including on
- Problems with the draft produced during the previous process
- Areas of consensus
- Oversee the drafting, by a Drafting Group, of Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poultry, based on the above objectives
- Seek feedback from stakeholders on the draft
- Provide a final draft to AGSOC.
The panel will be supported by a secretariat from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture.
The secretariat will:
- Obtain existing documentation relating to the Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poultry to provide to the panel
- Facilitate meetings and discussions with the panel, the Drafting Group and updates to jurisdictions as appropriate
- Provide logistical support for the panel’s stakeholder consultation process
- Record the panel’s meeting outcomes.
Jurisdictions will nominate staff to be members of the drafting group. The Drafting Group will draft the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poultry under direction of the panel.
Decision Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS)
A decision RIS will need to be completed after preparation of the Standards and Guidelines and costs will be shared by jurisdictions.
The Australian Government Department of Agriculture will engage a specialist consultant to develop a decision RIS under AGSOC supervision.