RSPCA welcomes scrutiny of poultry welfare standards process

The RSPCA has welcomed today’s media coverage of concerns with the national poultry standards development process, and has reiterated its call for an independent scientific review.

Today’s front-page story in The Sydney-Morning Herald reports on the RSPCA’s serious concerns about the integrity of the process to develop new Standards and Guidelines for the Welfare of Poultry.

These Standards will govern the way approximately 700 million layer hens, meat chickens, turkeys, and ducks are treated in Australia’s commercial poultry industries each year, for at least the next decade or more.

Throughout the process, the RSPCA has repeatedly requested an independent review of relevant scientific literature to inform the development of the standards, particularly those relating to layer hen housing systems.

Independent scientific reviews are a routine practice in the development of equivalent standards internationally, and have led the governments of New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom and the entire European Union to conclude that battery cages cause hens to suffer, cannot provide an acceptable quality of life, and therefore have no place in farming.

As a member of the Stakeholder Advisory Group, and with a reputation built upon science-based policy, the RSPCA is concerned its name may be used to lend credibility to what it believes is a flawed process.

The responsible government representatives are yet to address the RSPCA’s concerns, and the Draft Standards, which propose no changes to the continued use of battery cages for layer hens, are due to be released for public consultation in April.

The RSPCA currently remains committed to the standards development process, but if concerns about the scientific integrity of the standards are not sufficiently addressed, it will be forced to reconsider whether its ongoing participation is in the best interests of animal welfare.

To find out more about layer hen welfare in Australia, visit

The RSPCA is Australia’s leading animal welfare organisation and one of Australia’s most trusted charities. The RSPCA works to prevent cruelty to animals by actively promoting their care and protection.