Our role

The state and territory member Societies provide services to animals in need through their shelters and inspectorates. In the national office, RSPCA Australia works to influence animal welfare policy, practice and legislation across the country
Go to Our role

Key issues

The RSPCA advocates for the welfare of animals across a number of industries, issues and platforms. Help from our supporters is important to progress change. Working together is key.
Go to Key issues
take action live sheep export alternate
Priority issue
Australia is closer than it has ever…
Live sheep export

Support us

Whether you're an individual or a business, there are multiple ways you can support the RSPCA
Go to Support us
An animal in the RSPCA care being cared for by an RSPCA vet
Donate now to support your local RSPCA and make a difference to animal welfare across Australia
Donate

About

The RSPCA is an independent, community-based charity providing animal care and protection services across the country.
Go to About
about us national statistics
Read our National Statistics
Compiled on a national basis by RSPCA…
Annual statistics

Adopt

By choosing adoption, you’ll not only have the chance to make a friend for life, but you’ll be giving an animal a second chance and helping support the RSPCA.
Go to Adopt
adopt a pet logo
Visit the Adoptapet website
Make a difference to a pet’s life today.
Search Adoptapet
Blog

Why we’re worried about Australia’s dangerously flawed poultry welfare standards

Generic Avatar
  • RSPCA Australia
  • Monday, 27 February 2017

You may have noticed some media lately about the review of Australia’s national poultry standards and our concerns about the process.

Development of such Standards and Guidelines is a complex and fairly bureaucratic process. So you might ask why we’re so concerned about it, or why you should care.

These standards will govern the way all poultry species in Australia are treated – that’s over 700 million birds every year, for at least the next decade or more. Chickens used for meat and eggs, turkeys, ducks, emus, ostriches, even your humble racing pigeon will be covered by these standards.

This is the first time in more than 15 years that these national minimum welfare standards are being reviewed, and this same process will soon be used to determine the welfare standards for pigs, sheep and cattle.

This is a very rare opportunity to improve the lives of millions of animals. That’s why we need to make sure the process is done right, and leads to tangible improvements in animal welfare - not just what supports the status quo.

Unfortunately, this is not happening.

We have been involved in the review process from the beginning, and have repeatedly requested that the responsible government representatives and Animal Health Australia (the body responsible for managing the process) to commission an independent scientific review to inform the standards.

Countries including Canada, New Zealand, and the whole European Union (including the UK) commission independent scientific reviews to inform the development of animal welfare standards as a routine practice. This has led to a phase out of battery cages in these countries.

In Australia, significant decisions are being made which have enormous impacts on the lives of millions of animals, with no such information. You have to wonder - why not?

Instead, a small standards drafting group has produced a series of ‘supporting papers’ which purport to summarise the relevant science. In reality, these papers appear to be little more than a mechanism to defend pre-determined policy positions, including making no changes to the ongoing use of barren battery cages.

This is despite over a decade of significant poultry welfare research since the standards were last reviewed.

We got so frustrated with this blatant deficiency that we produced a comprehensive scientific review.

And we’re not the only ones to speak out. Prominent animal welfare scientists have heavily criticised the content of the supporting papers, calling them ‘selective’ and ‘misleading’.

The scientific integrity of the entire process is objectively in question, and Australia’s animal welfare standards are being set by a dangerously flawed process.

We know the only way that more than 11 million hens currently confined to battery cages will receive a fair go, is if caring Australians speak out for them.

There’s still time, and Australia has the potential to have an exemplary standards-setting process. You can write to your state/territory Agricultural Minister to demand that welfare standards for Australian animals be based in science and evidence.

Also let your voice be heard in our campaign to ban the battery cage here. We’ll make sure politicians around the country get the message.

For the hens!

subscribe box

Stay informed on big issues and how you can help improve animal welfare across Australia.

Subscribe today and we’ll keep you updated on all the latest campaigns, events and news.