The National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) has updated its Code of Practice for chickens and turkeys, and you can comment on it until December 4th by completing NFACC's online survey.
The Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Hatching Eggs, Breeders, Chickens and Turkeys is the closest thing we have in Canada to laws protecting the hundreds of millions of chickens and turkeys raised for food here each year. Please take a few moments to go online and provide your feedback. Below are key areas to comment on, with the section number and suggested text. (Remember: it was public comments on the Code of Practice for pigs that resulted in the phasing out of sow stalls in Canada by 2024).
KEY WELFARE ISSUES IN THE NEW CODE
Alterations/mutilations â€” section 2.5
Cutting off toes, spurs, combs and beaks should be banned in favour of better management and slower-growing breeds â€” it's the fast growth, aggression and overcrowding that causes the birds to peck in the first place. Pain management should always be used, and if beak-trimming is done, the infrared method (rather than a hot blade) should be mandatory.
Feed restrictions â€” section 4.2
The rapid, excessive weight gain of chickens and turkeys stops them from reproducing. Farmers counter this by controlling the food intake of breeder birds. As a result, breeders are typically fed 1/3 â€“ 1/2 of what they want to eat, which means they suffer chronic hunger. The way to end this cruel practice is to move to slower-growing breeds.
Turkey reproduction â€” section 6.5.1
Turkeys now grow so large that they can't mate naturally. Female birds must be artificially inseminated (a rough, highly invasive procedure that often involves abuse), while male turkeys, or â€˜tomsâ€™, are subjected to â€˜milkingâ€™ â€” i.e. they are manually masturbated and their semen is collected for insemination. To address this serious welfare issue, the industry must begin using slower-growing breeds.
Genetic selection â€” general comment box at end of survey
Genetic selection is not addressed in the Code â€” yet it is possibly the most serious health and welfare issue facing chickens and turkeys today. Because these animals have been bred to grow so large, so fast, they often end up lame, with broken bones, and dying of heart failure. They can't mate naturally. They often can hardly walk. They also exhibit extreme behaviour â€” for example, male broiler chickens have been seen attacking and trying to 'rape' hens.
To make any significant improvement in poultry welfare, the industry must begin to move away from these fast-growing breeds. Using slower-growing strains is the only way to address many of the welfare issues in the industry today.
Please speak up for chickens and turkeys â€” provide your comments using NFACC's online survey.
You can read the Code of Practice here.
And you can learn more about key welfare issues faced by chickens and turkeys here.
Thank you for helping farm animals!