Animal welfare approved strict standards
Dear AWA farmer,
We recently completed our annual standards amendment process and one of the amendment proposals that was accepted may be relevant to your farm. For a long time AWA has had a standard prohibiting hens that could lay 280 eggs per cycle or more. The reason for this is that these highly prolific hens can suffer welfare problems such as prolapse, bone fractures or increased mortality. However, the AWA Standards Board considered that other AWA standards mitigate the situation and that as long as bird welfare is protected and negative outcomes from using these more prolific birds are not seen the standard could be amended to continue to recommend birds with lower production levels – but not to require them as the only suitable birds. This proposal came about following input from farmers, auditors and others regarding the actual production and behavior of these more prolific birds in pasture based systems. It was suggested that the limit of 280 eggs per cycle potentially cut out the use of some good pasture birds that may lay more than 280 eggs in their first cycle but which are also well suited to molt and molt again as per AWA requirements.
The standards amendment proposal received positive feedback from those that commented and the amendment has now been passed and forms part of our updated standards for 2015. See http://animalwelfareapproved.org/standards/layinghens-2015/ if you want to review the full set of updated standards.
In practice this means that if you have any birds that potentially lay more than 280 eggs per cycle as part of your AWA flock you may retain them as long as there are no health or welfare concerns. This holds true even if you were previously under an agreed compliance plan to phase these birds out. You may also source these more prolific birds as replacement chicks for your flock – as long as all other AWA standards on sourcing and placing chicks are met.
If you have any questions about how the new standards affect your particular farm situation please get in touch with us.
Thank you for being an AWA farmer and for your ongoing support of the program.
Julie Suarez Walker
Director of Operations
Animal Welfare Approved
A Program of A Greener World
PO Box 6
Marion, VA 24354
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