Poultry welfare code

The Australian Model code of practice for the welfare of animals: domestic poultry (4th edition) is an adopted code under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001. State and territory governments are developing new Australian animal welfare standards and guidelines for poultry. These new standards were endorsed nationally in July 2023 and will replace the model code when finalised.

The model code contains standards and guidelines to provide minimum acceptable outcomes of animal welfare for poultry. It applies to all ages and types of poultry (fowls, turkeys, ducks, geese, pheasants, guinea fowl, partridge, quail and pigeons), whether kept commercially or as a hobby.

The code promotes agreed animal welfare outcomes for poultry by defining acceptable poultry management practices, and encouraging considerate and efficient treatment and handling of poultry in all types of production systems.

The code has been developed in consultation with animal industries, animal welfare groups, and relevant state and federal government bodies. It is one of a series of national animal welfare codes for livestock.

Read the Model code of practice for the welfare of animals: domestic poultry (4th edition).

Key standards from the poultry code regarding domestic fowl are written into the Animal Care and Protection Regulation 2023 Schedule 1 as the 'Code of practice about domestic fowl'. These requirements are mandatory and commenced on 1 March 2003.

Aspects of the poultry welfare code

The poultry code is a guide for people responsible for the welfare and husbandry of domestic poultry. It recognises that the basic requirement for welfare of poultry is a husbandry system appropriate to their physiological and behavioural needs.

The code covers the animal welfare aspects of:

  • housing
  • space allowances
  • equipment
  • lighting
  • ventilation
  • temperature and humidity
  • protection
  • food
  • water
  • inspections
  • health and distress
  • management practices
  • hatchery management
  • transport of poultry
  • sale of poultry
  • poultry at slaughtering establishments
  • stocking densities and other minimum acceptable guidelines for cage and non-cage systems.

The code is not a comprehensive manual on how to care for poultry and does not provide detailed information, such as diets or animal health regimes.

Duty of care to poultry

Anyone who owns, manages or handles poultry may have a legal duty of care under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 and be responsible for ensuring acceptable welfare outcomes.

This includes:

  • poultry owners (commercial and non-commercial)
  • poultry managers
  • poultry handlers
  • contractors
  • managers and abattoir staff
  • drivers
  • veterinarians
  • poultry processors
  • transport company managers and staff.

Other welfare codes relevant to poultry

Everyone involved in transporting poultry must comply with the compulsory code of practice for transport of livestock.

More information on the appropriate care and handling of poultry is contained in the animal welfare codes for livestock at slaughtering establishments.

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