About the 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. It 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.

Key standards from the poultry code regarding domestic fowl are written into the Animal Care and Protection Regulation 2012 as the 'Code of practice about domestic fowl'. These requirements are mandatory and commenced on 1 March 2003.

Biosecurity Queensland has a monitoring program for domestic fowl welfare. The program is aimed at ensuring compliance with the regulations governing the keeping of domestic fowl, preventing animal suffering, promoting the requirements for animal care and ensuring people with poultry understand the requirements of the 'Code of practice about domestic fowl'.

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 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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