Meat Chicken Standards
The Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW (AWA) seal is a hard earned badge of difference and demonstrates the farmer’s commitment to the care of their animals, the land and the local community. Farmers in this program will be distinguished by a humane and conscientious attitude towards the animals in their care as evidenced by physical audit and development of detailed plans and records of farm practices.
Farmers in the program agree to a minimum of one visit a year from AGW staff or agents, with the possibility of additional visits if deemed necessary, to confirm compliance with the standards during various seasons and to allow observation of animals in different phases of life. Participation in the program is on an annual basis and must be renewed each year.
The premise of the AWA standards is that animals must be allowed to behave naturally. The following standards allow animals the opportunity to perform natural and instinctive behaviors essential to their health and well-being. Provisions are made to ensure social interaction, comfort, and physical and psychological well-being.
The AWA program is voluntary. The standards do not supersede national government or state legislation.
1 OWNERSHIP AND OPERATION
1.0.1 The individual or entity seeking AWA status for their livestock must own and have management control of the birds.
1.0.2 The individual or entity seeking AWA status must produce a livestock product for sale or trade that is eligible to carry the AWA seal.
Note: If the primary market is selling/trading livestock as pets, birds for 4H, FFA, show birds or marketing meat from birds slaughtered at non-compliant slaughter facilities the farm cannot be AWA. See also section 14.1 if the primary market is breeding birds.
1.0.3 The AWA Standards must be met for all the animals or birds of the species for which use of the label is sought. Farmers using “split” or “dual” systems, in which some animals or birds of one species are simultaneously kept in systems that do not meet AWA Standards must have a plan that demonstrates clear separation and traceability of operations. The plan must address:
184.108.40.206 Physical Separation
220.127.116.11 Financial Separation
18.104.22.168 Operational Separation
Note: The Dual Production Plan template must be filled out for determination of compliance if an operation has a split or dual system. AGW’s dual production policy is intended to support operations in expanding AGW-certified production. An operation must show that they are either operating separate businesses or distinctly separate product lines. A farm is not required to seek approval for all the species they manage simultaneously. If a farm has split or dual systems of the same species and cannot demonstrate clear traceability, AGW maintains the right to refuse to audit or certify the farm.
1.0.4 AWA is a birth to slaughter program. Meat sold under the AWA label or logo must come from birds that have been certified as being raised to AWA standards and slaughtered using a method and at a location that has received written approval from AWA.
22.214.171.124 If the farm does not intend to market meat from some or all of their birds under the AWA label, but owns or has control of a bird when it is slaughtered, the slaughter process must meet the AWA Slaughter Guidelines for Poultry.
1.0.5 The certified farm may participate in networks, co-operatives or marketing groups in order to market livestock products as AWA as long as each member is audited as meeting all other requirements listed in these standards.
1.0.6 All those working with birds must be competent to carry out the tasks required of them.
Note: This standard applies to contract and temporary workers as well as full time employees and family members.
2 BREEDS AND ORIGIN OF BIRDS
2.0 Breeds and Origin– General Standards
2.0.1 Breeds and strains must be chosen with consideration of their ability to thrive in the prevailing climatic conditions of the farm, in pasture-based, free range, outdoor systems.
2.0.2 Cloned or genetically engineered birds are prohibited.
Note: This includes the use of cloned or genetically engineered breeding stock, the offspring of clones or genetically engineered birds and semen from cloned or genetically engineered birds.
2.0.3 Breeding replacements may come from farms that are not certified by AWA but must be of a suitable breed or type for pasture based production under these standards.
2.0.4 A record of the source, date of purchase and number of breeding birds must be kept.
2.0.5 Recommended Wherever possible the farm should run a closed flock.
Note: A closed flock is one where no birds are brought onto the farm from external sources. Farms that do not have the genetic diversity or the expertise to achieve this should partner with experienced breeders to source their birds and learn more about selection criteria.
2.0.6 Rescue birds and birds sold as culls from other flocks cannot be bought into the AWA flock.
Note: If an experienced farmer is asked to participate in rescue activities they must contact AGW as soon as possible and preferably before rescue birds arrive on farm to discuss their options. Rescue birds cannot be used or marketed as AWA.
2.1 Not Allocated
2.2 The Poultry Breeding Flock
2.2.1 Artificial insemination for poultry is prohibited.
Note: Exceptions may be granted on a case-by-case basis.
2.2.2 The use of birds from confinement and/or caged systems is prohibited.
2.2.3 – 2.2.4 Not allocated.
2.2.5 When averaged over their entire lives, the rate of growth of meat chickens allowed to grow naturally on an optimum ration must not exceed 0.088 lbs (40 g) per day.
Note: The rate of growth for a breed type must be measured as if the bird was allowed to grow on an optimum ration that ensures the welfare of the bird is maintained. AGW looks at information from the breeding company or hatchery that supplies the bird and not individual on farm information to determine compliance with standard.
2.2.6 – 2.2.7 Not Allocated.
2.2.8 If negative welfare impacts relating to growth rate, such as lameness, other skeletal health issues and/or high mortality are seen or reported, breed and/or management changes must be made to improve welfare.
Note: AGW may require the farm to change breeds for any future flocks in order to remain in the program.
2.2.9 Recommended The use of birds derived from traditional breeds is recommended.
2.2.10 Recommended The use of dual purpose breeds so that male chicks can be raised as meat type birds and female chicks can be raised as laying hens is recommended.
Note: The recommendations in 2.2.9 and 2.2.10 will be reviewed annually with the intent of making them requirements whenever sufficient suitable stock is available.
2.3 Birds to be raised for meat
2.3.1 Not allocated.
2.3.2 If chicks can be placed on farm within 36 hours of hatch they may be sourced from non-AWA hatcheries. Birds over 36 hours old must come from AWA sources.
Note: If it is not possible to place chicks within 36 hours please contact AGW for further advice.
This standard will be reviewed annually, and when there are sufficient AWA hatcheries it will be a requirement to source AWA chicks.
2.3.3 Birds hatched on farm or delivered as a straight run from a hatchery that does not provide sexed birds, must be raised to AWA standards until they can be sexed on farm. If only males or only females are required the unwanted birds may be removed from the AWA system.
2.3.4 Recommended All birds hatched on farm or delivered as a straight run should be raised to AWA standards.
3 HEALTH MANAGEMENT
3.0 Health Planning and Preventative Management
Health and management planning increases both positive welfare and productivity.
3.0.1 Bird management must be focused on promoting health rather than treating disease.
3.0.2 Each farmer in the AWA program must establish contact with a qualified expert such as a veterinarian. The qualified expert must be familiar with:
126.96.36.199 The birds on the farm.
188.8.131.52 The health requirements of the state.
184.108.40.206 Methods to maximize bird health and welfare.
3.0.3 Recommended Each farmer should schedule regular preventative care visits by a qualified expert.
Note: AGW will provide support and assistance in achieving this standard.
3.0.4 A health plan emphasizing prevention of illness or injury must be prepared in consultation with the farm’s qualified expert advisor to promote positive health and limit the need for treatment. It must address:
220.127.116.11 Avoidance of physical, nutritional or environmental stress.
18.104.22.168 Climatic considerations.
22.214.171.124 Vaccinations and other methods to cope with prevailing disease challenges.
126.96.36.199 Biosecurity measures.
188.8.131.52 Environmental impacts, including manure management and run-off.
184.108.40.206 Ranging and foraging area management.
220.127.116.11 Exclusion of predators and control of rats and mice.
Note: See Standard 11.1.2 for recommendations on review/update of plans.
3.0.5 If there is disease or known risk of disease on farm vaccines must be used.
Note: In order to help eliminate or reduce vulnerability to disease and the need for antibiotics at therapeutic levels, AGW encourages the appropriate use of vaccines on an individual or group basis for prevention of disease.
3.0.6 Action must be taken to address any causes of lameness.
3.0.7 Recommended Farmers should participate in recognized disease eradication programs.
Note: AGW supports management to eliminate or reduce the risk of certain diseases and farmers are therefore encouraged to engage with programs that seek to achieve this. Recognized schemes could be national or state wide.
This standard may become required for specific diseases when a funded and functioning program is available.
3.1.1 Any sick or injured birds on the farm must be treated immediately to minimize pain and distress. This must include veterinary treatment if required.
18.104.22.168 Homeopathic, herbal or other non-antibiotic alternative treatments are preferred.
22.214.171.124 If alternative treatments are not suitable or not effective or if a veterinarian has recommended antibiotic treatment, this must be administered.
126.96.36.199 Withholding treatment in order to preserve an bird’s eligibility for market is prohibited.
Note: The discovery of untreated injured or ill birds may be grounds for removal from the program.
3.1.2 The sub-therapeutic and/or non-therapeutic use of antibiotics, or any other medicines, to control or prevent disease or promote growth, is prohibited.
3.1.3 Growth hormones or the use of any other substances promoting weight gain are prohibited.
Note: Probiotics to promote positive health are permitted.
3.1.4 Not allocated.
3.1.5 Records must be kept of the administration of veterinary medical products.
188.8.131.52 Date of purchase.
184.108.40.206 Name of product.
220.127.116.11 Quantity purchased.
18.104.22.168 Identity of the birds treated.
22.214.171.124 Reason why birds were treated.
126.96.36.199 Number of birds treated.
188.8.131.52 Date when treatment started and finished.
184.108.40.206 Withdrawal time.
3.1.6 Birds treated with an antibiotic must not be slaughtered to produce meat or used to produce eggs for the AWA program before a period of time has passed that is at least twice the licensed withdrawal period of the antibiotic used.
3.1.7 Birds treated with any off-label medication must not be slaughtered to produce meat or used to produce eggs for the AWA program until at least seven days after medication, or an alternative withdrawal as advised by a veterinarian.
220.127.116.11 Birds must not be treated with any medications prohibited for food animal use.
3.1.8 Any surgical procedure not covered by these standards must be carried out by a veterinarian.
3.2.1 The primary methods of preventing parasite infestations must be ranging and foraging area management or rotation and bedding management and removal.
3.2.2 If prevention has not been effective, medicine regimens must be implemented to effectively control worms, lice and any other parasites.
3.2.3 The use of organophosphates and other products with the same or a similar mode of action is prohibited.
Note: An exception to the standard above may be considered if other treatments have been shown to be ineffective. Please refer to the AGW paper on organophosphate and non-organophosphate type products.
3.2.4 Recommended Fecal samples to monitor internal parasite burdens should be taken at least annually.
3.2.5 Fecal samples must be reviewed by a competent person.
3.2.6 Recommended Fecal samples should be taken during the growing season when birds are out on ranging and foraging areas.
Note: When local or national authorities order the killing of a flock or if any large-scale euthanasia is about to take place to eradicate disease, AGW must be notified as soon as possible.
3.3.1 Birds experiencing pain or suffering from which they are unlikely to recover must be promptly euthanized on the farm in a manner that renders the bird immediately insensible to pain.
Note: Please contact AGW if further information on appropriate methods of euthanasia is required.
3.3.2 Not allocated.
3.3.3 Euthanizing poultry in a way that causes unnecessary pain or suffering is prohibited. Methods that do not render the birds immediately insensible to pain include:
18.104.22.168 Penetration of the brain or spinal column without pre-stunning.
4 NOT ALLOCATED
5 MANAGEMENT OF POULTRY
5.0 General Management of Poultry
5.0.1 All birds must be thoroughly inspected at least twice per 24 hours.
Note: During the inspection the welfare of each bird must be observed. If any bird is not in a state of well-being, it must be cared for immediately and corrective measures must be taken. During a time of increased risk to health and welfare, inspections must be increased as necessary to protect the bird’s well-being.
5.0.2 Birds must be maintained in stable groups of a suitable size to uphold a well-functioning hierarchy. Introduction of new birds to a group must be carefully managed and supervised.
5.0.3 Special care must be taken when mixing breeding males to minimize harm to individuals.
5.0.4 Poultry must be carefully monitored to minimize fighting, feather pecking and other negative behaviors, and necessary steps must be taken to protect birds from harm.
5.0.5 Recommended Chickens should be kept in flocks of no more than 500 birds.
5.0.6 Not allocated.
5.0.7 If negative behaviors affecting the welfare of birds in the flock are seen or reported, management and/or breed changes must be made to improve welfare.
Note: AGW may require the farmer to reduce the flock or colony size within the affected flock or any future flocks in order to remain in the program. Flock size is a factor that has been shown to affect the occurrence of negative behaviors such as feather pecking, cannibalism and others.
5.0.8 Hens must be protected from excessive injury during treading.
5.0.9 All chickens must have access to dust baths.
5.0.10 Not allocated.
5.0.11 The use of goggles or other similar devices designed to reduce feather pecking is prohibited.
5.0.12 Poultry systems must be arranged and managed in such a way to minimize mortality.
5.0.13 Where identification is required it must not cause harm to the bird.
5.1 Management of Breeding Flocks
Note: The following standards apply if the farm manages its own breeding flock.
5.1.1 Birds must be allowed to molt naturally. Forced molting is prohibited.
5.1.2 Unless compliant with AWA meat chicken standards, a breeder or layer flock must go through at least two laying cycles before removal of the flock.
Note: To be compliant with AWA meat chicken standards requires laying hens to be slaughtered at AWA reviewed and recommended slaughter plants and to be marketed under the AWA logo. This does not apply if birds are euthanized, composted or otherwise disposed of.
If the farm is not compliant with AWA meat chicken standards, only under exceptional circumstances may a farmer seek permission from AGW to end the life of a flock prior two laying cycles.
5.2 Provision for Hatching
Note: The following standards apply if hatching takes place on or under the control of the approved farm.
5.2.1 Recommended Natural brooding is recommended.
5.2.2 A hen sitting on eggs may be removed from the flock and excluded from ranging and foraging areas during brooding and for up to four weeks after the chicks have hatched as long as the indoor and foraging area requirements in standard 8.1.3 are met.
5.2.3 Hatching records must be kept. These must include:
22.214.171.124 The number of eggs received.
126.96.36.199 The number of eggs set.
188.8.131.52 The number of eggs hatched.
184.108.40.206 The number of chicks delivered to the growing farm or transferred to the meat or layer operation.
5.2.4 The hatchery must be constructed to allow easy cleaning and disinfection.
5.2.5 There must be an alarm to show power failure to the incubator and hatchery.
220.127.116.11 Recommended There should be alarms to show when temperature and humidity in the incubator and hatcher are outside of expected levels.
5.2.6 There must be a backup power source that meets the power requirements for the hatchery.
5.2.7 The backup power source must be maintained and tested as per the manufacturer’s instructions with a record kept of this.
5.3 Management of Chicks
5.3.1 Throwing young birds or mechanical moving of young birds from delivery containers is prohibited.
5.3.2 Young birds must be placed from a height of 12 in (30.48 cm) or less.
5.3.3 Litter must be provided from placement of young birds.
5.3.4 Young birds must be placed within 36 hours of the first egg hatching.
5.3.5 Recommended Young birds should have access to forage from 24 hours after placement.
5.3.6 Young birds must have access to forage by seven days of age.
5.3.7 Meat chickens must have access to raised areas from four weeks of age. These may be perches or may be provided by straw bales or other items that allow the birds to get up off the floor.
18.104.22.168 Recommended Meat birds should have access to raised areas from 10 days of age.
22.214.171.124 Recommended Meat birds should have at least 1 inch per bird aerial perch space or 1 sq. in. per bird on a raised platform.
Note: The recommended space allowances for raised areas can be met by only providing perches, only providing raised platforms – such as bales or raised flat planks – or a combination of the two. If birds are observed competing for space, more raised areas should be provided.
126.96.36.199 Recommended Raised areas for meat birds should be at least 4.5 inches off the floor.
5.4 Physical Alteration of Poultry
5.4.1 All mutilations or physical alterations of poultry are prohibited. These include:
188.8.131.52 De-beaking (beak clipping, tipping and trimming).
184.108.40.206 De-toeing and toe trimming.
220.127.116.11 Hole punching.
18.104.22.168 Wattle trimming.
22.214.171.124 Comb trimming.
5.4.2 Trimming feathers is permitted. Skin or flesh must not be cut.
5.4.3 Castration (caponizing) of poultry is prohibited.
6 FOOD AND WATER
6.0 – General Food and Water Standards
6.0.1 Birds must have free access to clean, fresh water at all times.
6.0.2 Birds must have a feeding plan that will guarantee a varied, well-balanced and wholesome nutritional regime appropriate for their age.
6.0.3 A list of ingredients or sample tear tags from all feed, feed blocks and mineral blocks used on farm must be made available to the AGW representative.
6.0.4 Food and water must be distributed in a way that eliminates competition.
6.0.5 Feeding meat or animal by products is prohibited,
126.96.36.199 Not allocated.
188.8.131.52 Fish and aquatic products fed to poultry must come from sustainable sources.
Note: Feeding dairy products or by-products is permitted. By-products of aquatic species caught or farmed for human consumption and/or those that come from fisheries with a valid certificate of sustainability (e.g. from MSC) may be classed as sustainable.
6.0.6 Recommended Farms should be Certified Non-GMO by AGW.
6.0.7 Recommended Farms that are not seeking Certified Non-GMO accreditation should avoid genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or derivatives of GMOs, including GMO feed and veterinary and health care products containing GMOs or their derivatives as well as the growing of genetically engineered crops.
6.1 – 6.2 Not Allocated
6.3 Food and Water for Poultry
6.3.1 Poultry must have constant access to food during daylight hours.
6.3.2 Birds must always have access to insoluble grit. Birds must be able to pass the grit into the gizzard.
Note: Grit may be obtained from the environment or provided as a supplement. If provided as a supplement it can be removed 48 hours prior to slaughter.
7 RANGING AND FORAGING AREA ACCESS
7.0 General Ranging and Foraging Area Access Standards
The aim of good ranging and foraging area management is to satisfy the flock’s food-seeking behaviors. Birds must be able to explore the ground and their natural environment.
For management of birds in extreme weather please see sections 7.5 and 8.0.
7.0.1 – 7.0.2 Not allocated.
7.0.3 In climatic conditions that do not pose a risk to bird welfare continuous daytime ranging and foraging area access is required for all birds from the age of four weeks onwards.
Note: AGW recommends that all birds have access to the outdoor ranging and foraging area from as early on in life as possible. This could be from two to three days old onwards if conditions allow.
7.0.4 Recommended Ranging and foraging areas should be used in rotation. Both extensive and rotational systems are permitted.
7.0.5 The amount of outdoor area must be such that the health and welfare of the birds and ranging and foraging area quality is maintained.
7.0.6 Ranging and foraging areas and the fencing that surrounds them must be designed and maintained so they do not pose a risk, or inflict injury on the birds.
Note: This includes keeping ranging and foraging areas free of old fencing, old farm machinery and any other debris that could cause injury.
7.0.7 Birds must have access to ranging and foraging areas that are well drained and clean.
7.0.8 A ranging and foraging area management plan must be in place that addresses the specific farm site. It must ensure that:
184.108.40.206 Not allocated.
220.127.116.11 Poultry must have access to growing green vegetation on the range whenever conditions allow.
18.104.22.168 The composition of the ranging and foraging area does not create health problems for the birds.
22.214.171.124 Birds have access to fresh, clean ranging and foraging areas that has not become polluted with manure.
126.96.36.199 The location of water, shelter, and feeding areas is addressed.
Note: See Standard 11.1.2 for recommendations on review/update of plans.
7.0.9 Soil testing must be conducted at least every three years.
Note: Farmers with extensive, unfertilized range lands and/or farming land on short term lease agreements should contact AGW for guidance on appropriate soil testing intervals.
188.8.131.52 Recommended Annual soil testing should be carried out in any ranging and foraging areas where manure is spread.
184.108.40.206 Recommended Annual soil testing should be carried out in any areas where poultry have been kept.
7.0.10 Recommended Annual testing of pasture or forage nutritional content is recommended (see also 6.0.2).
7.0.11 Herbicides and pesticides may only be used when weeds or pests cannot be practically controlled by other means.
7.0.12 Herbicides and pesticides must be mixed, used and disposed of according to manufacturer’s instructions to avoid environmental contamination.
7.0.13 Birds must not be kept on land within 21 days of direct application of herbicides or pesticides.
7.0.14 The use of any manures or fertilizers for ranging and foraging areas that are bought in from off-farm must be justified by soil testing and crop nutritional need.
7.0.15 Waste from on-farm slaughter, and the remains of animals/birds that die or are euthanized on farm must be properly composted before it is applied to ranging and foraging areas.
7.0.16 Fish fertilizers must come from sustainable sources.
7.0.17 After the application of fish fertilizer, the composted remains of animals/bird that die or are euthanized on farm or slaughter waste to ranging and foraging areas there must be an interval of at least one month, or until all visible signs of the application have disappeared (whichever is longer), before birds use the land.
Note: Permission may be granted for bird to use the land prior to one month after application of composted animal remains, slaughter waste or fish fertilizer if it can be demonstrated that birds will not be exposed to any trace of the fertilizer.
7.0.18 Recommended Manures and fertilizers that can have a negative effect on soil microbial life and/or which contain heavy metals should be avoided.
7.0.19 Water sources on the farm must be managed and maintained to prevent environmental pollution.
7.0.20 Land must be managed to avoid erosion.
Note: AGW understands that even with the best management some erosion due to the activities of pasture based livestock may occur. This standard is scored against the steps farmers take to try to avoid and/or minimize erosion risks rather than the presence or absence of erosion on the farm. A complete absence of any erosion is desirable – but it is accepted that it may not always be possible.
7.0.21 Ranging and foraging areas must not be degraded by overuse and/or other management techniques.
7.0.22 Non-point pollution and other local environmental standards must be met.
7.0.23 Ranging and foraging areas on which birds have been out-wintered or that are otherwise worn out or denuded must be restored.
7.0.24 Not allocated.
7.0.25 Spraying neonicotinoids on pasture land owned or managed by the approved farm is prohibited.
7.0.26 Recommended Neonicotinoids should not be sprayed on any land owned or managed by the approved farm.
Note: There is increasing evidence that neonicotinoids not only adversely affect bees, but other wildlife. These products are already prohibited in many countries and AGW will continue to monitor published research on this topic.
7.1 – 7.2 Not Allocated
7.3 Ranging and Foraging Area Access for Poultry
7.3.1 The activity of the birds must not cause more than 20% of the ranging and foraging area they are kept on being denuded.
220.127.116.11 The ranging and foraging area must be useable and accessible
Note: Areas are useable and accessible when it is possible for birds to get to them during their normal ranging and foraging activities. Birds may range a long way from their house or roost when there is shelter – either natural or man-made – but will stick close to the house if the area is very open and they feel threatened.
7.3.2 Birds must have access to land that meets standard 7.3.1 for at least 50% of daylight hours.
7.3.3 Birds must be able to forage and seek nutrition from the range.
7.3.4 Clean drinking water must be continuously available to birds on range.
7.3.5 Birds must be protected from the immediate threat or fear of aerial predators.
7.3.6 Areas of retreat or cover must be available close to the birds and provided in a manner that encourages ranging behavior and ensures maximum use of the ranging and foraging areas available.
Note: These can be natural (for example: trees, shrubs and cover crops) and/or artificial.
7.3.7 The colony or flocks must be moved before the land becomes damaged or contaminated.
7.3.8 Confinement systems, in-house or field-based pens or cages that restrict the birds’ natural behaviors, are prohibited.
7.3.9 After the brooding period each bird must have continuous access to at least 4 sq ft (0.37 sq m) range and foraging area (see also 7.0.3).
7.3.10 – 7.3.11 Not allocated.
7.3.12 Birds must have space to fly, run and stretch their wings in pens on ranging and foraging areas.
7.3.13 The minimum pen size on ranging and foraging areas for chickens must be at least 18 ft by 10 ft.
Note: For the purposes of this standard a pen is an enclosed area on the ranging and foraging area, usually attached to the poultry house, which allows chickens to range within a defined area.
This standard does not apply to individual hens naturally brooding chicks – see Standard 5.2.2.
7.3.13 – 7.3.15 Not allocated.
7.3.16 Fully enclosed (covered) pens on ranging and foraging areas may only be used when there is a predator risk that cannot be controlled by other means.
7.3.17 A fully enclosed pen on ranging and foraging areas for chickens must be at least 4 ft high.
7.3.18 – 7.3.19 Not allocated.
7.3.20 If pens on ranging and foraging areas are moved in the lifetime of the flock protocols must be in place to ensure no harm comes to birds during the move.
7.4 Not Allocated
7.5 Exclusion from Ranging and Foraging Areas
For the purposes of these standards AGW defines exclusion from ranging and foraging areas as the following:
- Shutting birds into a house or barn.
- Keeping birds outdoors, outside of the growing season, on a sacrifice pasture/dirt lot (or similar).
- Keeping birds outdoors when ranging and foraging areas are covered to the point that birds cannot access vegetation (e.g. when ranging and foraging areas are snow covered).
Birds who have been properly selected for the specific climate conditions will voluntarily choose to go outdoors in all but the most extreme weather. However when exclusion is in the best interest of the bird the standards in the following section and those in section 8 must be met.
7.5.1 Birds may only be removed from ranging and foraging areas and housed when their welfare would otherwise be negatively affected.
Note: Acceptable reasons for removal from ranging and foraging areas could include the following: extreme weather, emergencies; for example wildfires, overnight removal from ranging and foraging areas for predator protection and allowing a hen to carry out natural brooding.
7.5.2 If there is planned removal of birds from ranging and foraging areas for any length of time OR in an emergency where removal from ranging and foraging areas exceeds 28 days, the farmer must put into place a written plan for bird management. It must include:
18.104.22.168 Triggers for housing such as temperature, precipitation or soil condition.
22.214.171.124 Space available to each housed bird.
126.96.36.199 Facilities available to house the birds. These must include roosting areas, scratch areas, feeding areas and space to enable birds to fulfill their behavioral needs.
188.8.131.52 Triggers for birds to be returned to ranging and foraging areas.
Note: It is not acceptable to use a particular date during the year as a trigger for either housing or return to ranging and foraging areas. Triggers should relate to the identified risk to the welfare of the birds under particular climatic or environmental scenarios.
7.6 Exclusion from Ranging and Foraging Areas for Poultry
7.6.1 Not allocated.
7.6.2 If birds are excluded from daytime access to ranging and foraging areas they must be provided with vegetative material so that they can engage in foraging behavior.
8 HOUSING AND SHELTER
8.0 General Housing Standards
8.0.1 Not allocated.
8.0.2 The thermal comfort of poultry must be protected by provision of housing or shelter with natural or mechanical temperature and humidity control as required. The needs of all ages and stages of production and local climatic extremes must be taken into account when planning housing or shelter.
Note: If the temperature drops below 55F (13C) for more than 7 days in a row, natural shelter is not sufficient to protect bird thermal comfort and man made houses or shelters must be provided.
8.0.3 In extreme weather there must be a means to feed and water birds in a sheltered environment.
8.0.4 Shelters and housing must be positioned away from areas of run off or potential run off.
8.0.5 Shelters and housing must be well ventilated and allow fresh air to enter.
8.0.6 Shelters and housing must allow natural light to enter.
8.0.7 All housing, huts, arks and other facilities (such as feeders and water troughs) must be designed and maintained in such a way that they do not pose a risk, or inflict injury or damage to the birds.
8.0.8 Birds must not be subjected to dim and/or continuous lighting or kept in permanent darkness.
8.0.9 In the daytime, the birds must always be able to see each other, their food and water sources, as well as their surroundings clearly.
8.0.10 Inspection of birds must be possible at any time day or night.
8.0.11 Use of artificial light must not extend the maximum day-length beyond 16 hours.
8.0.12 When birds are shut into housing or shelter any artificial light must be distributed evenly.
8.0.13 Poultry housing must be kept at an average of at least 20 lux in daylight hours.
8.0.14 Not allocated.
8.0.15 Wire mesh flooring must not damage the birds’ feet.
8.0.16 When poultry are excluded from outdoor, vegetated ranging and foraging areas during daylight hours they must continue to have access to a solid floored foraging area.
Note for poultry: See Standard 8.1.3 for space allowances when birds are excluded from outdoor, vegetated ranging and foraging areas. Existing mesh or slatted flooring areas within the house may be covered to create the equivalent of a solid surface, or birds may be given access to a solid floored foraging area outside the house – for example a winter garden or barn – when conditions do not allow them to be outside on a vegetated ranging and foraging area.
8.0.17 Birds at all times must have an area available that provides dry footing so they are not forced to stand in mud or manure.
8.0.18 Accommodations must be constructed so that they can be easily and effectively cleaned.
8.0.19 Manure must be removed from housing or shelters on a regular basis.
8.0.20 If a house is depopulated, bedding must be removed and the house completely cleaned and left for at least 24 hours before restocking.
8.0.21 Houses must be fully dry before a new flock is introduced.
8.0.22 The house or shelter must be managed to eliminate ammonia, dampness and mold.
Note: The human nose can detect ammonia at levels of 5ppm upwards. If the farmer can smell ammonia action must be taken to eliminate the source.
8.0.23 Liquefaction of manure and liquefied manure handling systems are prohibited.
8.0.24 Close confinement in cages, crates or by tethering is prohibited.
8.0.25 Temporary close confinement which may be required for vaccination, weighing, marking or veterinary procedures, is permitted. This must be noted in the farm plan or recorded at the time.
8.0.26 Maintenance and housekeeping routines must be in place to minimize any potential problems from rats or mice.
8.1 Space Allowances in Housing and Shelter
Space allowances for housing and shelter have been set to allow all birds to move around freely and have sufficient space allowing for the behavioral structure of the flock.
8.1.1 – 8.1.2 Not Allocated.
8.1.3 The following space allowances are required in housing or shelter.
Chickens – minimum indoor area
|Type of bird||Space per bird||Space per bird|
|Meat chicken||0.67 sq. ft||0.06 sq meters|
|Pullet||0.67 sq ft||0.06 sq meters|
|Laying hen||1.8 sq. ft||0.16 sq. meters|
|Breeder||1.8 sq. ft||0.16 sq. meters|
Chickens – minimum additional foraging area when birds are excluded from a ranging and foraging area.
|Type of bird||Space per bird||Space per bird|
|Meat chicken||2.0 sq. ft||0.18 sq meters|
|Pullet||2.0 sq ft||0.18 sq meters|
|Laying hen||4.0 sq. ft||0.37 sq. meters|
|Breeder||4.0 sq. ft||0.37 sq. meters|
184.108.40.206 Recommended Chicks should have access to at least 0.25 sq. ft. (0.02 sq. meters) per bird when first placed in brooders and this space should be increased as the birds grow.
8.2 Not Allocated
8.3 Temporary Separation and Hospital Pens
8.3.1 There must be provision of a safe place for sick or injured birds to recover, free of competition.
8.3.2 If injured birds are separated from the flock they must only be kept apart until such time they can rejoin the group without adversely affecting either the health or welfare of the individual or the flock.
8.3.3 Birds must not be kept in isolation unless briefly required for veterinary procedures or to recover from an illness or injury.
8.3.4 The pen or enclosure for temporarily single-housed birds must meet the space requirements in section 8.1.
8.3.5 Recommended Temporarily single-housed birds should have visual and auditory contact with others.
8.3.6 At minimum, pens used for the treatment of sick birds must be cleaned between each use.
8.4.1 In stationary housing, bedding must be available to chickens at all times.
8.4.2 When birds kept in mobile houses are excluded from ranging and foraging areas during daylight hours, bedding must be available to poultry at all times.
Note: Bedding is not required in stationary or mobile roosts for meat chickens where birds are only kept inside at night while perching. For the house or shelter to be considered only as a roost birds must have access to sufficient perches or raised platforms for all to roost, be let out at first light and have un-obstructive access to the foraging area during daylight hours.
8.4.3 Housing and shelter must be kept dry.
8.4.4 Bedding must be clean, dry, mold-free and replenished as needed.
8.4.5 Bedding must not cause discomfort or harm to the birds.
8.4.6 Not allocated.
8.4.7 Bedding from timber-based products sourced from chemically treated wood is prohibited.
8.4.8 Not allocated.
8.4.9 In cold temperatures heat must be provided as necessary to keep birds comfortable.
8.5 Not Allocated.
8.6 Poultry Housing – General
8.6.1 Houses for poultry must be at least 4 ft. high.
Note: This standard does not apply when birds always have free access in and out of the house.
8.6.2 Birds must be able to exhibit their normal physical and social behaviors including self-isolation.
8.6.3 All poultry must have access to areas of retreat both in the house and out on range.
8.7 Poultry Housing – Perches
Note: The following standards apply if the farm manages its own breeding flock
8.7.1 Once in lay, chicken breeder flocks must have access to 7 in (18 cm) aerial perch per bird.
8.7.2 – 8.7.3 Not allocated.
8.7.4 Training perches must be provided to pullets by the time they are 10 days old through to point of lay.
220.127.116.11 Recommended Pullets should have at least 1 inch per bird aerial perch space.
18.104.22.168 Recommended To encourage use, low perches around 6 to 8 inches high should be provided for pullets aged from 10 days to 4 weeks.
22.214.171.124 Recommended Perches provided for pullets ages from 4 weeks through to point of lay or placement in the laying house should meet the same requirements as for laying hens (see also standard 8.7.6).
8.7.5 Perches for pullets and breeders must be built in such a way that the birds can securely grip the perch, be non-slip and have no sharp edges.
8.7.6 Perches must be at least 12” off the floor; 18” apart vertically in ladder perches; 12” apart vertically in A frame or diagonal perches; 12” apart horizontally and at least 8” from a wall.
126.96.36.199 Recommended Perches should be rounded with a flat top.
8.8 Poultry Housing – Nest Boxes
Note: The following standards apply if the farm manages its own breeding flock
8.8.1 Breeding birds must have access to nest boxes.
8.8.2 Breeding birds must have at least one individual nest box for every five birds.
8.8.3 Where communal nests are used there must be at least 20 sq. inches per breeding hen.
8.8.4 Not allocated.
8.8.5 Breeding bird may only be excluded from nest boxes during the nighttime perching period.
8.8.6 Nest boxes must be in a dark and secluded area.
8.8.7 Each nest box for breeding hens must allow the bird to perch and alight.
8.8.8 Not allocated.
8.8.9 Nest boxes must be weatherproof.
8.8.10 Nest boxes must be dry with friable and manipulable nesting material.
8.8.11 Nest boxes must be in an area that provides ventilation.
8.9 Entries/Exits from the House to the Ranging and Foraging Area
8.9.1 Structures and outdoor areas must encourage birds to go outside in the hours of daylight.
8.9.2 If there are more than 75 birds in the flock there must be more than one entry and exit open at any time to allow birds free access to outside.
8.9.3 The minimum width for any entry or exit is 18 inches.
8.9.4 Chickens must have access to entries and exits whose combined width adds up to at least a quarter of an inch per bird.
Note: A flock of 75 birds or less must have access to at least one entry/exit door that is at least 18 inches wide. A flock of 75 to 140 birds must have access to two entry/exit doors that are each 18 inches wide or a single door that is at least double the minimum width required by 8.9.3 . A flock of more than 140 birds must have at least two doors whose combined width adds up to at least quarter of an inch per bird; for example a 200 bird flock must have at least two doorways that add up to at least 50 inches in width.
8.9.5 – 8.9.7 Not allocated.
8.9.8 Openings must be large enough to allow at least two birds to pass without touching.
8.9.9 The height of any entry or exit must be at least one inch more than the height of the tallest bird in the flock when the bird is upright.
8.9.10 There must be no obstructions that would prevent birds from seeing the exits.
9 REMOVAL OF BIRDS FROM THE APPROVED FARM
9.0 Removal of Birds from the Approved Farm – General Standards
These standards only apply to birds that the approved farmer retains ownership of when they are moved off the approved farm.
9.0.1 When AWA livestock are removed from the approved farm they must be kept to AWA standards until such time they leave the ownership of the approved farm or farmer.
9.0.2 There must be a separate and specific plan for maintaining bird health and welfare, transport, biosecurity and continued compliance with the AWA standards while birds are removed from the approved farm.
9.1 Temporary Removal of Approved Birds from the Approved Farm
9.1.1 AWA livestock will only retain their status when temporarily removed from the approved farm for the following reasons:
188.8.131.52 – 184.108.40.206 Not allocated.
220.127.116.11 Movement of birds in an emergency.
18.104.22.168 Movement of birds prepared for showing.
22.214.171.124 Movement of birds for up to 24 hours for routine management practices.
9.1.2 Poultry taken to shows do not have to meet ranging and foraging area access standards as long as they are only off the approved farm for a maximum of 72 hours.
9.1.3 – 9.1.4 Not allocated.
9.1.5 Showing birds must be conditioned to handling and human contact before movement to a show can be permitted.
10 PREDATORS AND RODENTS
10.0 Protection from Predators
10.0.1 All birds must be protected from predators.
10.0.2 If livestock guardian dogs are used their management must meet the AWA guidelines for guardian or herding canine management.
10.0.3 If other guardian animals are used they must be suitable for guardian duties.
10.0.4 Guardian animals must be chosen with consideration of their ability to thrive in the prevailing climatic conditions of the farm, in pasture-based, free range, outdoor systems.
10.0.5 In the event that exclusion is unsuccessful and predation remains an issue, live trapping may be used.
10.0.6 Live traps must be checked twice daily.
10.0.7 All other forms of traps are prohibited.
10.0.8 All snares and leghold traps are prohibited.
10.0.9 The use of poisons against predators is prohibited.
10.0.10 If live trapping is not possible or is not successful then as a last resort lethal control of specific animals may be carried out when these are causing an immediate threat to farm livestock.
10.0.11 If there is a continuous threat from predators that cannot be managed by live trapping advice must be sought from AGW regarding a control program.
10.0.12 Lethal control/euthanasia of predators must result in instantaneous irreversible unconsciousness and death.
10.0.13 If a predatory animal has been euthanized to protect the birds on the farm, there must be records kept of the species in question, number of animals, and euthanasia method.
10.1 Control of Rats and Mice
10.1.1 Glue boards for the control of rats and mice are prohibited.
10.1.2 Licensed rodenticides placed such that non-target species have no access to them may be used for the control of rats or mice.
10.1.3 Lethal control/euthanasia of live trapped rodents must result in instantaneous irreversible unconsciousness and death.
11 RECORDS AND RECORD-KEEPING
This section lists the records and plans that must be maintained on farm and the sections where they can be found. All records and plans must be in a physical form that can be shown to the AGW auditor. Verbal plans and records are not acceptable
Note: For new farmers entering the program a period of 12 months will be provided to put the program plans and records in place. Please contact AGW if you require assistance. AGW also provides templates for plans and records.
11.0 Written Records
11.0.1 Each farm must maintain, and provide the auditor access to, records to demonstrate compliance with AWA standards.
11.0.2 Records must be kept of the purchase, sale or transfer of AWA birds and products (e.g. eggs, meat etc).
11.0.3 Records must be kept of mortalities and culls including the cause for these where known.
11.1 Written Plans
AGW requires the following written plans in addition to the emergency plan detailed in this section. See the relevant standard number for more information:
- Health plan; standard 3.0.4
- Ranging and foraging area management plan; standard 7.0.8
- Transport plan; standard 13.0.1
11.1.1 A plan to care for or house birds in emergency situations must be prepared and be understood by all of those working on the farm.
126.96.36.199 The plan must consider the welfare of the birds during a fire. In shelters or housing with restricted access (a single door or doorways), a fire plan must be established with escape routes to the outdoors, available from the interior of the shelter, to allow all birds to be evacuated quickly. In shelters or housing with restricted access, a method to extinguish the fire (fire extinguisher, water source) must be readily accessed. Birds must be kept from direct access to electrical wiring and heat sources as a fire prevention measure.
188.8.131.52 The plan must ensure welfare of the birds is maintained in any potential climatic extreme such as floods, snow storms, or drought.
184.108.40.206 The plan must ensure welfare of the birds is maintained during any potential disruption of services or mechanical breakdown, such as water supply cutoff and breakdown of feeding or ventilation machinery.
220.127.116.11 The plan must ensure the welfare of birds is maintained during transport to include actions to be taken in the event of an accident or vehicle breakdown.
11.1.2 Recommended All plans for bird management should be reviewed at least annually or whenever changes to farm management practices occur, whichever is most frequent.
Note: This standard applies to the health plan (standard 3.0.4); ranging and foraging area management plan (standard 7.0.8); emergency plan (standard 11.1.1) and transport plan (standard 13.0.1).
12.0 Not Allocated
12.1 Handling Poultry
12.1.1 Abuse or maltreatment of birds is prohibited.
12.1.2 Planned catching (for example to take birds to slaughter) must be carried out in dusk or darkness.
Note: Individual birds may be caught in daylight for required treatments or inspections.
12.1.3 All chicken must be caught and carried round the body or by both legs. Single leg catching of chickens is prohibited.
12.1.4 Not allocated.
12.1.5 Birds must be caught with a minimum of chasing.
12.1.6 Handling and catching must only be done by competent persons.
12.1.7 Hired catching teams must have completed training on humane methods of handling.
12.1.8 In the event a bird suffers accidental injury during catching, they must receive individual treatment to minimize pain and suffering immediately.
12.1.9 Sick, injured and/or suffering birds discovered during the catching process who are not expected to recover must be euthanized.
12.1.10 Birds must not be used for sport.
13.0 Transport – General Standards
This section applies to all transport of birds including to slaughter, around the farm, between farms or delivery to farm.
13.0.1 A plan must exist to ensure that welfare of the birds is maintained during transport. The plan must include:
18.104.22.168 Transport of birds to the farm.
22.214.171.124 Transport of birds around the farm (including moving poultry houses during the lifetime of the birds).
126.96.36.199 Transport of birds off the farm to other farms, to receive veterinary attention or to slaughter.
Note: See Standard 11.1.2 for recommendations on review/update of plans.
13.0.2 All birds must be healthy, ambulatory and uninjured to be transported unless they are being transported to receive veterinary treatment.
13.0.3 The person transporting the birds must ensure they are transported without delay to their destination.
13.0.4 A competent individual must take responsibility for ensuring that birds do not suffer any injury or distress at any point immediately before, during and after transport.
13.0.5 All subcontractors, handlers and truckers must adhere to AWA standards.
13.0.6 If delays during transport or unloading upon arrival at destination are anticipated, loading and transport must not commence until those complications are resolved.
13.0.7 During transport, all birds must be protected from harm and thermal stress.
13.0.8 In the event that any birds suffer injury or distress during transport they must be treated or euthanized as soon as practically possible.
13.0.9 Ventilation must be provided that allows the birds to breathe fresh air while on the transport vehicle.
Note: When transporting birds in crates particular attention must be paid to ventilation passages between crates.
13.0.10 Overcrowding during transport is prohibited. The following space allowances in transport are required:
In poultry transport crates:
Chickens:7lbs (3kg) per cubic foot (0.028 cubic meters)
In trailers (when the birds are loose in the trailer)
|Space per bird (sq. ft)||Space per bird (sq. m)|
13.0.11 The transportation vehicle must be thoroughly cleaned and dried prior to loading.
13.0.12 All birds must have continuous access to water until the point of loading.
13.1 – 13.2 Not Allocated
13.3 Transport of Poultry
13.3.1 The vehicle transporting the birds must be capable of providing protection from high wind currents or rain and snow.
13.3.2 Recommended Transport after dark is recommended as it helps keep the birds calm and quiet.
13.3.3 Birds destined for slaughter may be crated overnight provided that they have adequate ventilation, are not overcrowded, and are transported to their final destination within three hours of dawn.
13.3.4 Feed must not be withdrawn for more than eight hours before slaughter.
Note: If birds are crated overnight and go directly to slaughter in the morning, feed withdrawal may exceed eight hours.
13.3.5 Transport to slaughter must not exceed four hours.
Note: A derogation may be granted if an approved slaughter plant is not available within 4 hours travel from the farm.
13.4 Transport of Chicks
13.4.1 Young birds must be transported in chick boxes designed for the purpose.
13.4.2 Boxes must have non-slip pads on the bottom.
13.4.3 The number of day-old birds must be put in boxes according to box count.
13.4.4 Delivery containers must not cause crowding or packed conditions for young birds.
13.4.5 Chick boxes must not be stacked on one another unless specifically designed for the purpose. When stacking boxes, care must be taken to ensure that air flow to the young birds is not restricted.
13.4.6 Live day old birds must only be transported in temperature controlled vehicles.
13.4.7 A Record of Movement Form must be completed for each delivery of birds.
Note: The Record of Movement Form can be downloaded from the AGW website or contact AGW for further assistance.
13.4.8 If birds are to be delivered to a local collection point, the farm must contact the collection point in advance of birds being dispatched to ensure the collection point knows live birds will be delivered and has a means to contact the farm as soon as this happens.
Note: Collection points may include local farms, farm stores, local post offices or other businesses.
13.4.9 The number of chicks that are dead on arrival and/or injured or in poor condition must be recorded for each delivery.
13.4.10 If the dead on arrival figure exceeds 3% for two consecutive deliveries in a 12 month period AGW must be informed.
13.5 Transport Containers for Poultry
13.5.1 Birds must be transported in containers of a suitable type for their age and size.
Note: Only newly hatched chicks may be transported in chick boxes.
13.5.2 Transport containers must be capable of being cleaned and disinfected.
13.5.3 The containers and vehicles in which birds are transported must be thoroughly cleaned, disinfected and dried between uses.
13.5.4 Containers must be designed to allow birds to be easily loaded and unloaded.
13.5.5 The use of thin wire transport cages is prohibited.
13.5.6 When poultry crates are used they must be designed so that the birds can sit comfortably next to each other, but not stand.
Note: This limited space helps the birds stay calm and avoid harming themselves or distressing others by banging into the surrounding walls.
13.5.7 Transport containers must be capable of providing the birds with adequate fresh air and protection from inclement weather.
13.5.8 Transport containers must allow for inspection of the birds.
13.5.9 Transport containers must be kept in an upright position and be easily identifiable as containing live birds.
13.5.10 If containers are stacked, extra care must be taken to ensure chickens have sufficient ventilation.
13.6 Transporting Breeder Poultry
13.6.1 Adult breeder birds must be transported in individual crates or on a trailer.
13.6.2 In a trailer, birds must be separated according to sex, weight and age.
13.6.3 In a trailer flooring must consist of heavy bedding so birds are able to stand comfortably without slipping.
13.7 Transport of Poultry by Air
13.7.1 Any birds transported by air must be delivered to and collected from the airport within 45 minutes of take-off and landing.
13.7.2 All containers used for transport by air must comply with section 13.5.
13.7.3 Records confirming the airline’s commitment to air-condition the hold must be in hand prior to loading.
13.7.4 Receiving air handlers must have contact details of the person receiving birds.
14 SALE OR TRANSFER OF BIRDS
14.0 Sale or Transfer of Poultry
14.0.1 Recommended All birds should be reared on their farm of hatch.
14.0.2 – 14.0.5 Not allocated.
14.0.6 Birds must not be displayed or offered for sale or transfer at farmers markets, swap meets or similar venues.
Note: Delivery or exchange of birds at a farmers market or similar venue when the sale or transfer has been pre-arranged may be acceptable.
14.0.7 Birds sold live at the point of slaughter under the AWA label or logo must only be sold to customers who will take them to AWA slaughter plants.
14.0.8 – 14.0.11 Not allocated.
14.0.12 Recommended AGW recommends that even if birds or bird products are not sold under the label or logo they are sold to other AWA farms and slaughtered at AWA slaughter plants.
14.1 Marketing Breeding Stock
If the farm advertises that any of their birds produced are suitable as breeding stock or to raise as pullets/laying birds, the farm is a breeding stock operation and must meet the standards below.
14.1.1 The AWA breeding stock farm must produce birds that are suitable for pasture based production.
14.1.2 The AWA breeding stock farm must have a written breeding plan that covers the following points:
188.8.131.52 The overall breeding aims.
184.108.40.206 The protocol for selecting and matching sires and dams.
220.127.116.11 The criteria used to assess whether birds are suitable to be marketed as laying birds or breeding stock.
14.1.3 The AWA breeding stock farm must inform buyers about the AWA program.
15 PROGRAM MANAGEMENT
15.0.1 AGW must be informed immediately of any changes on farm that could result in a deviation from the standards.
Note: The farmer must inform AGW if they change slaughter plant from that which is listed on their certificate – even if the change is to another plant that has been reviewed and recommended by AWA.
15.0.2 Temporary deviations will be taken into consideration when unexpected circumstances that are not under the control of the farmer arise.
15.0.3 All other deviations from the AWA standards can be cause for reconsideration of the farmer’s participation or removal from the AWA program and use of its seal, in conjunction with that farmer’s products.
15.1.1 If, in the opinion of the AWA Standards Board, a system meets all of the principles of the program but does not pass a specific standard or standards, derogation may be granted.
15.1.2 In order for a derogation to be granted, an inspection report must be submitted stating the deviation from the published standard, the reason for this deviation, the length of time this deviation from standards will occur and the welfare outcome should the derogation be granted.
15.1.3 Derogation may be granted for on-farm trials and case studies that deviate from the standards when the proposed outcome is a benefit to bird welfare and/or farmer education.
15.2.1 A complaints record relating to complaints about AWA certified livestock or products must be maintained and be available at annual inspection. The record must list both the complaint and the action taken by the farm.
Note: The AWA program is accredited to ISO 17065 and it is a requirement of our certification that farms within the program maintain a record in the rare event that any complaint is made. AGW does not expect that farms in the program will receive complaints about their certified livestock or products, but if any are received they must be recorded along with the response from the farm.
16.0 Not Allocated
16.1 Slaughter of Poultry
16.1.1 Recommended On farm slaughter is recommended and Controlled Atmosphere Killing (CAK), in which birds remain in their crates and their oxygen is slowly replaced by a mixture of argon and/or nitrogen is the preferred slaughtering method.
Note: On-farm mobile slaughter and CAK are not readily available. It is the goal of AGW to make these processes more widely available and acceptable for USDA-approved programs.
16.1.2 CAK and Controlled Atmosphere Stunning (CAS) using carbon dioxide may be used for chickens.
16.1.3 Not allocated.
16.1.4 When a slaughterhouse using CAK/CAS in a form that includes the use of anoxic gas is available, such a plant must have priority.
16.1.5 Slaughterhouses receiving birds in the AWA program, or the process of slaughtering on-farm, must pass a review by the AWA program for pre-slaughter handling, stunning, and killing.
Note: For further details of the review requirements see the AWA Slaughter Guidelines for Poultry.
16.1.6 Recommended The person delivering the birds to slaughter should stay with them to ensure that they are slaughtered according to AWA guidelines in 16.1.5.
16.1.7 Birds must be handled as little as possible up to the point of slaughter.
16.1.8 Birds must be unloaded and slaughtered within two hours of arrival at the slaughterhouse.
16.1.9 At the slaughter plant, birds must be unloaded in a dimly lit room.
16.1.10 Crates must be unloaded in an upright position and must be handled with care to ensure they are not tipped.
16.1.11 No person must cause or permit a bird to sustain any avoidable excitement, pain or suffering.
16.1.12 Any person involved in the killing or slaughter process, including unloading and handling of the birds, must demonstrate the knowledge and skill to perform those tasks humanely and efficiently.
16.1.13 All birds must be restrained prior to stunning and slaughter in a manner that spares them any avoidable pain, suffering, agitation or injury.
16.1.14 Shackling of live birds is not permitted without prior written consent.
Note: Permission by AGW must be renewed annually and will not be granted once a facility within the maximum travel distance that does not use shackles is approved.
16.1.15 Stunning must be followed immediately by killing (bleeding).
16.1.16 When one person is responsible for both operations, they must be carried out consecutively on one bird before moving on to the next.
16.1.17 Killing birds without prior stunning is prohibited.
16.1.18 Stunning must render the birds immediately insentient to pain.
16.1.19 Cones may be used to restrain birds prior to stunning.
16.1.20 Birds must not leave the cone until dead.
It is the goal of AGW to obtain stunning for poultry that does not involve shackling and hoisting of birds. Currently, the plants that use better methods are so rare in the U.S. that it is not possible for all AWA farmers to access a plant that does not shackle and hoist. We are moving toward securing the least stressful methods of slaughter for all birds in the AWA program as quickly as possible.