Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Animal Welfare - Senate Select Committee - Reports - Intensive livestock production - Report, June 1990


Download PDF Download PDF

Intensive Livestock Production

Report by the Senate Select Committee on Animal Welfare

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

INTENSIVE LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION

Report by the

Senate Select Committee on Animal Welfare

June 1990

Australian Government Publishing Service Canberra

© C o m m o n w e a lth o f A u s t r a l i a 1990

ISBN 0 644 11999 3

Printed in Australia by R. D. RUBIE, Commonwealth Government Printer, Canberra

MEMBERSHIP OF THE COMMITTEE

Members

Senator A.R. Devlin, Chairman, (Tasmania)**

Senator D. Brownhill, Deputy Chairman, (New South Wales)*

Senator P. Calvert (Tasmania)**

Senator B. Cooney (Victoria)*

Senator R.J. Bell (Tasmania)***

Senator B.R. Burns (Queensland)***

* From July 1985 ** From September 1987 *** From May 1990

Former Members of the Committee

Senator G. Georges (Queensland) - Member and Chairman December 1983 to June 1987

Senator Jack Evans (Western Australia) - Member December 1983 to June 1985

Senator J.M. Hearn (Tasmania) - Member December 1983 to June 1985

Senator the Hon. D.B. Scott (New South Wales) - Member December 1983 to June 1985

Senator J.R. Siddons (Victoria) - Member July 1985 to August 1985

Senator N.K. Sanders (Tasmania) - Member July 1985 to March 1990

Senator J Morris (New South Wales) - Member September 1987 to May 1990 and - Chairman September 1987 to August 1989

Committee Secretariat

Monica McMahon, Secretary Peter Short, Senior Research Officer Doris Pratezina, Parliamentary Officer The Senate Parliament House Canberra

iii

CONTENTS

Page

Terms of Reference and Conduct of Inquiry xi

List of Tables xiii

Abbreviations Used in the Report xv

RECOMMENDATIONS xvii

PART ONE - INTRODUCTION 1

CHAPTER 1 - OVERVIEW 3

Intensive Systems Defined Benefits of Intensive Husbandry Welfare Concerns Conclusion 10

CHAPTER 2 - DEVELOPMENT AND IMPORTANCE OF INTENSIVE LIVESTOCK INDUSTRIES IN AUSTRALIA 15

Production and Consumption 15

Role of Governments 19

Economic and Social Pressures 20

Development of Intensification 21

Consumer and Farm Cost Pressures 25

Conclusion 27

CHAPTER 3 - WELFARE AND WELFARE ASSESSMENT 31

Welfare Definitions and Concepts 31

Welfare Assessment 33

Vices and Stereotypic Behaviour 34

Research and Scientific Assessment 36

Conclusion 43

Recommendation 44

CHAPTER 4 - PEAK NATIONAL BODIES 49

Introduction 49

Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal Societies 50

v

" j σ'» m

Page

Australian Council of Egg Producers 50

Australian Federation for the Welfare of Animals 52

Australian Pig Industry Policy Council 53

Australian Poultry Industries Association 55

Australian Veterinary Association 55

Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals 57

PART TWO -THE DOMESTIC FOWL 61

CHAPTER 5 - CAGE HOUSING OF LAYERS 63

Stocking Densities 70

Current Research into Space Requirements 72

Developments in Europe 74

Conclusion 76

Recommendations 76

Overstocking 77

Recommendation 78

Cage Design 79

Recommendation 84

CHAPTER 6 - ALTERNATIVE HOUSING SYSTEMS 91

An Analysis of Alternative Systems 92

Get-away Cages 92

Deep Litter 95

Aviary or Perchery Systems 96

Covered Straw Yard 99

Free-Range Systems 99

Recent Developments in Europe 104

The Economics of Alternative Systems 107

Consumer Preference 112

Conclusion 113

Recommendations 114

CHAPTER - 7 HUSBANDRY PRACTICES 121

Beak trimming 121

Reasons for Beak Trimming 122

Consequences of Beak Trimming 123

When Beak Trimming is Performed 125

Alternatives to Beak Trimming 125

vi

Page

Standards of Practice 126

Conclusion 127

Recommendation 127

Induced Moulting 127

Procedures for Induced Moulting 128

Welfare Effects of Induced Moulting 129

Recommendations 130

Artificial Lighting Cycles 130

CHAPTER 8 - HANDLING AND TRANSPORT 137

Handling Procedures 138

Transport of Spent Hens and Pullets 139

Conclusion 141

Recommendations 141

CHAPTER 9 - BROILER CHICKENS 145

Housing Systems 146

Stocking Densities 147

Litter Flooring 149

Recommendations 149

Alternative Housing Systems 151

Handling and Transportation 152

Picking-up Chickens 152

Transportation 154

Processing of Broilers 155

Recommendations 158

Health Problems 158

Leg Weakness 158

Respiratory Disease 160

Skin Damage 160

PART THREE - PIGS 167

CHAPTER 10 - PIGS AND THE AUSTRALIAN PIG INDUSTRY 169

Introduction 169

Pig Breeds in Australia 171

Adaptation to Modern Husbandry Systems 172

Behaviour of Free Ranging Pigs 173

Trend to Specialisation 175

Pig Terminology 179

Marketing 180

vii

Page

Government Support Services 181

Economic Pressures 182

Community Concerns 184

Australian Agreed Standards 185

CHAPTER 11 - INTENSIVE PIG HOUSING 191

Introduction 191

Industry view of Welfare Criticisms 191

ANZFAS Concerns 192

Confinement Housing 195

Pig Welfare Research in Australia 196

Intensive Housing and Environment in Australia 199

Sow housing 200

Open Range System 201

Group Run Individual Feeding 201

Dry Sow Stalls 201

Dry Sow Tethers 203

Dry Sow Pens 203

Farrowing Systems 204

Conclusion 205

Weaner Pig Accommodation 205

Grower Pig Accommodation 206

Stocking Density 207

Contentious Issues 209

Comparative Analysis of Dry Sow Housing in the United Kingdom 213

Conclusion 216

Recommendations 216

CHAPTER 12 - MANAGEMENT PRACTICES 223

Surgical Procedures in the Industry 223

Castration 224

Taildocking 225

Teeth Clipping 227

Other Practices 229

Conclusion 231

Recommendations 232

CHAPTER 13 OFF-FARM HANDLING 237

Transport and Handling Stresses 237

Australian Agreed Standards 238

Discussion of Issues 240

Conclusion 243

Recommendations 243

viii

Page

PART FOUR - THE WAY FORWARD 245

CHAPTER 14 - STOCKMANSHIP, EDUCATION AND TRAINING 247

Introduction 247

Poultry 249

Pigs 251

Conclusion 253

Recommendations 253

CHAPTER 15 - LEGISLATION AND REGULATION 257

Codes of Practice and Self-Regulation 257

Regular Review of Codes of Codes of Practice 258

Recommendation 258

Codes of Practice and Legislation 259

Recommendation 259

CHAPTER 16 - CONCLUSION 261

Introduction 261

Standards for Husbandry Systems 262

Recommendation 262

Activists and Ethologists 262

Perceptions and Reactions 263

Community Education 265

National Consultative Committee on Animal Welfare 265 Conclusion 265

APPENDIX Is List of Witnesses Who Appeared Before the Committee (Intensive Livestock Production) 269

APPENDIX 2: Establishments and Properties Formally Inspected 273

APPENDIX 3: Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal Societies Recommendations on Intensive Egg, Chicken Meat and Pig Production 275

APPENDIX 4: Australian Federation for the Welfare of Animals - Membership Details 279

ix

Page

APPENDIX

APPENDIX

APPENDIX

APPENDIX

5: Australian Veterinary Association Position Statement and Recommendations on Intensive Pig and Poultry Production

6: Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Australia - Policy Statement

7: Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals - No. 2 The Domestic Fowl

8: Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals - No. 1 The Pig

283

287

289

303

x

TERMS OF REFERENCE AND CONDUCT OF INQUIRY

The intensive livestock production inquiry is the sixth specific inquiry undertaken since the Senate Select Committee on

Animal Welfare was established in November 1983 to inquire into

and report upon:

'the question of animal welfare in Australia, with particular reference to:

(a) interstate and overseas commerce in animals;

(b) wildlife protection and harvesting;

(c) animal experimentation;

(d) codes of practice of animal husbandry for all species; and

(e) the use of animals in sport.'

To date the Committee has presented five reports to the

Senate:

Export of Live Sheep from Australia 1985

Dolphins and Whales in Captivity 1985

Kangaroos 1988

Animal Experimentation 1989

Sheep Husbandry 1989

A report on its inquiry into animal welfare issues

involved in the racing industry (thoroughbred, standardbred and

greyhound racing) is currently being finalised by the Committee.

The inquiry into intensive livestock production was

undertaken because of the developing concern in Australia that

the welfare of our domestic livestock is being jeopardised in

many of the housing systems currently operating.

xi

Issues of concern about intensively produced livestock

were raised when this Committee was first established. The

Committee has been receiving submissions, taking evidence and

inspecting facilities over a number of years on the three areas

of most concern - the pig, chicken meat and egg industries. This

report focusses on these three areas.

Public hearings and other meetings were held in Canberra

and interstate at which representatives of Government and

industry bodies, veterinary associations, animal welfare

organisations, and research scientists gave evidence in support

of their written submissions. Witnesses who appeared before the

Committee are listed in Appendix 1. Details of Committee

inspections are listed in Appendix 2. The transcript of evidence

is available for inspection at the Senate Committee Office, the

Australian National Library and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library.

During the course of this inquiry the Committee received

valuable assistance from many organisations and individuals. The Committee acknowledges the efforts made by those who prepared

submissions and gave evidence. It also thanks those who provided

the opportunity to inspect production facilities.

xii

LIST OF TABLES

TABLE Page

2.1 Agricultural Establishments, 31 March 1989 16

2.2 Production of Meat by Type 17

2.3 Numbers of Livestock and Poultry Slaughtered for Human Consumption 17

2.4 Gross Value of Agricultural Commodities Production 18

2.5 Summary of Australian Statistics and Projections for Meat 24

5.1 Maximum Recommended Stocking Densities for Domestic Fowls in Cages 71

6.1 Egg Production Costs in Different Housing Systems 108

6.2 A Comparison of Egg Production Costs 110

6.3 Estimated Costs of Egg Production in Australia from Caged Layers and Alternative Systems 111

10.1 Pig Numbers 176

10.2 Pigs and Holdings With Pigs 179

11.1 Maximum Recommended Stocking Densities for Housed Pigs 208

11.2 Advantages and Disadvantages of Commonly Used Systems for Keeping Dry Sows and Their Effect on the Animal, the Pig Keeper, the Environment and on Production Costs 214

xiii

ABBREVIATIONS USED IN REPORT

ACEP Australian Council of Egg Producers .

AFWA Australian Federation for the Welfare of Animals

ANZFAS Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal

Societies

APIA Australian Poultry Industries Association

APPF Australian Pork Producers Association

AVA Australian Veterinary Association

CSIRO Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

DARA Victorian Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs

MAFF UK Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

RSPCA Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

xv

RECOMMENDATIONS

PART ONE: INTRODUCTION

Welfare and Welfare Assessment

1. The Committee recommends that research funding bodies

ensure that all intensive livestock production studies and

specific animal welfare related research methodologies

take an integrated approach to problems addressed so that

findings contain elements of matters relating to housing environment, animal reaction to it, specific management issues, and animal/human interaction. (Paragraph 3.42)

PART TWO: THE DOMESTIC FOWL

Cage Housing of Layers

Stocking densities

2. The Committee recommends that as an initial step the

maximum stocking density for cages with three or more

birds be reduced from 52 kilograms per square metre to

46 kilograms per square metre. (Paragraph 5.41)

3. The Committee favours a shift away from the current

practice of calculating floor space per hen by kilogram of

live-weight per unit of floor area and recommends that in

future, the space allowance for hens be expressed in terms

of square centimetres of floor area per bird.

(Paragraph 5.42)

4. To give effect to the Committee's objective of addressing

the need for further reductions in stocking densities for

hens the Committee recommends the following reforms:

xvii

(a) that each cage have a minimum area for each bird of:

1000 square centimetres where one hen is kept in a cage;

750 square centimetres where two hens are kept in a cage;

600 square centimetres where three or more hens are

kept in a cage; and

(b) that an early date of effect be introduced for new

cages with a phasing-in period to apply for existing

systems. (Paragraph 5.43)

5. The Committee recommends that the stocking densities for

laying hens be regularly reviewed by the Sub-Committee on

Animal Welfare of the Australian Health Committee within the Australian Agricultural Council. (Paragraph 5.44)

Overstocking

6. The Committee recommends that more regular inspections of

commercial establishments be undertaken by the appropriate

authorities to monitor husbandry practices generally and

to ensure that stocking densities do not exceed those

specified in the Code of Practice for the domestic fowl.

(Paragraph 5.50)

Cage design

7. The Committee, recognising the significant welfare

benefits that may derive from the introduction of

innovative cage design, recommends that the Commonwealth

Government provide tax incentives to encourage farmers to

invest in cages incorporating improved design features.

(Paragraph 5.70)

xviii

Alternative Housing Systems

8. The Committee recommends that the banning of laying cages

be considered when it can be demonstrated that viable

alternative systems can be developed suitable to Australian conditions and that these alternative systems have positive welfare advantages. (Paragraph 6.79)

9. The Committee recommends that a combination of cage and

non-cage production systems be continued with market

forces dictating the relative market share of the

different systems. (Paragraph 6.79)

10. The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government

fund a research project in Australia to examine and

evaluate alternative housing systems that may be suitable

to Australian conditions and that this review:

(a) examine overseas research findings into alternative

housing systems;

(b) assess the welfare benefits and any welfare

disadvantages of such systems;

(c) evaluate the economic viability of alternative

systems; and

(d) consult with poultry producers, State Governments,

the veterinary profession, and specialist

ethologists, both in the initial and subsequent

stages of the project. (Paragraph 6.81)

xix

Husbandry Practices

Beak Trimming

11. The Committee believes that beak trimming should only be

performed by competent operators and recommends that more

formal training and supervision be introduced by the

poultry industry for beak trimmers so that improved

standards of practice may be achieved. (Paragraph 7.32)

Induced Moulting

12. The Committee recommends that only humane methods of

induced moulting be utilised and notes, with approval, the

preferred method of feeding barley ad libitum.

(Paragraph 7.48)

13. The Committee believes that moulting practices that

deprive birds of food or water for excessive periods cannot be justified on welfare grounds and recommends that

the starvation method of induced moulting be prohibited.

(Paragraph 7.48)

Handling and Transport

14. The Committee recommends that the information contained in

the Codes of Practice for road transport of livestock be

more widely disseminated by government extension services,

poultry companies, transport operators and the veterinary

profession. (Paragraph 8.15)

xx

15. The Committee believes that sufficient resources should be

provided to ensure that the provisions of the Code are

enforced and recommends that additional manpower resources

be provided to each State and Territory Department of Agriculture to ensure compliance with the provisions of

the Codes of Practice for road transport of livestock.

(Paragraph 8.16)

Broiler Chickens

Stocking Densities

16. The Committee recommends that the maximum stocking densities for broilers in sheds be set at a rate

consistent with the live-weight of the birds immediately

prior to processing to ensure that overcrowding does not

occur. (Paragraph 9.18)

17. The Committee recommends that the stocking densities for

broiler chickens be regularly reviewed by the

Sub-Committee on Animal Welfare of the Australian Health

Committee within the Australian Agricultural Council.

(Paragraph 9.19)

Processing of Broilers

18. The Committee believes that all slaughtering practices

should ensure a humane death and that as to the methods of

slaughter, other than by decapitation, the Committee

recommends that in all instances broiler chickens be

stunned prior to slaughter in accordance with the

guidelines laid down in the Codes of Practice for poultry

at slaughtering establishments. (Paragraph 9.56)

xxi

19. The Committee recommends that research be conducted into

effective means of stunning in an effort to overcome the

problems associated with the current methods.

(Paragraph 9.56)

PART THREE: PIGS

Intensive Pig Housing

Research and Evaluation

20. The Committee recommends that the Pig Research Council

actively encourage research to address the cost equation

associated with capital costs of pig housing and loss of

production with a view to clarifying some welfare stress issues. (Paragraph 11.70)

21. The Committee recommends that the maximum recommended

stocking densities for growing and adult pigs in groups be

reviewed to take account of the advances in understanding

of physiology and behaviour and the welfare consequences

of pen space, stocking rates and group sizes.

(Paragraph 11.71)

Sows

22. The Committee recommends that future trends in housing the

dry sow should be away from individually-confined stall

systems and that this be reflected in the Codes of

Practice for the welfare of the pig. (Paragraph 11.72)

23. The Committee recommends that tethering of sows be banned. (Paragraph 11.72)

xxii

24. The Committee, noting that sow size has increased over the

years, recommends that immediate attention be given to

ensure that stalls and farrowing crates currently in use

do not cause suffering due to cramping. (Paragraph 11.73)

25. The Committee recommends that the Codes of Practice for

the pig be revised to ensure stalls and crates reflect the body dimensions of large sows. (Paragraph 11.73)

26. On the issue of farrowing crates, noting that piglet mortality due to sow overlay is a major welfare

consideration, the Committee recommends the encouragement

of some producer pilot systems to test the viability of

designs which will allow sows more freedom of movement and

access to a separate exercise area at least some time each

day. (Paragraph 11.74)

27. The Committee recommends that governments and the industry

encourage the adoption of alternative approaches to accommodating sows through their various stages and the

improvement in husbandry skills needed to avoid welfare

problems. (Paragraph 11.75)

28. The Committee questions the management practice of birth

induction and recommends that the welfare implications of

prostaglandin use be investigated. (Paragraph 11.76)

Housing Systems Evaluation

29. The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government

fund a research project in Australia to examine and evaluate housing systems that may be suitable to

Australian conditions and that this review:

xxiii

(a) examine overseas research findings into alternative

housing systems;

(b) assess the welfare benefits and any welfare

disadvantages of such systems;

(c) evaluate the economic viability of alternative

systems; and

(d) take account of the views of producers, industry

service providers, design engineers and specialist

ethologists. (Paragraph 11.77)

Tax Incentives

30. The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government

provide tax incentives to encourage producers to upgrade

their systems to incorporate improved design features to

improve pig welfare. (Paragraph 11.78)

Overstocking

31. The Committee recommends that the appropriate authorities

ensure that regular inspections of intensive pig

production units be undertaken to monitor husbandry

practices generally and to ensure that stocking densities

do not exceed those specified in the Codes of Practice for

welfare of the pig. (Paragraph 11.79)

xx iv

Pig Husbandry Practices

Tailbitinq

32. The Committee, noting that taildocking involves some pain

and stress, recommends that stockpersons are properly

trained in the procedure, so that the task is undertaken

with dexterity and with as little trauma to the pig as

possible. (Paragraph 12.39)

33. The Committee recommends that further research into the

causal factors of tailbiting be undertaken as the issue is

so closely linked to overall aspects of pig welfare in

close confinement production. (Paragraph 12.39)

Teeth clipping

34. The Committee is surprised at the high susceptibility to

infection which apparently occurs in intensive systems and

noting the emphasis placed on the health benefits of intensive production recommends that further research be

conducted into the underlying reasons for infection that

necessitates teeth clipping. (Paragraph 12.40)

Pigs-Off Farm Handling

35. The Committee, noting the importance of a multi-sector

approach to strategies to minimise stress, deaths, and

decrease yield and quality losses during post-farm

handling of pigs, recommends a State and Territory-wide

multi-sectoral review of off-farm handling of pigs with a

view to upgrading existing codes of practice and

disseminating information to service providers, producers,

transporters, abattoirs and other interested parties. The

review process should take account of the views of animal

welfare organisations and specialist ethologists.

(Paragraph 13.16)

X X V

36 . The Committee recommends that in addition to ensuring that

information is widely disseminated on the proper handling

of pigs from farm loading to slaughter, adequate

monitoring should also be undertaken to ensure compliance

with the provisions of the Codes of Practice associated

with the transport and slaughter of livestock.

(Paragraph 13.17)

PART FOUR: THE WAY FORWARD

Stockmanship, Education and Training

37. The Committee recommends:

(a) that the subject of animal behaviour be recognised

as an integral component of the curriculum in

agricultural and veterinary colleges in Australia,

especially as a component of welfare;

(b) the development of certificate training courses for

stockpersons in the pig and poultry industries by

Technical and Further Education and agricultural

college courses;

(c) funding initiatives be developed to support skills

training of stockpersons unable to gain access to

formal training courses; and

(d) the Pig Industry Research Council, the Chicken Meat

Research Council and the Egg Industry Research

Council give greater priority to welfare-related

stockmanship research. (Paragraph 14.24)

xxvi

38. The Committee also recommends that the Codes of Practice

be revised to take account of advances in the

understanding of the importance of stockmanship in the

welfare of animals in intensive systems. (Paragraph 14.25)

Legislation and Regulation

39. The Committee recommends that to ensure that the Codes of

Practice remain relevant there should be continuing

revisions as appropriate and major reviews every five years to take account of technological changes in

husbandry practices, include advances in the understanding

of domestic fowl and pig physiology and behaviour, and to

reflect prevailing community attitudes. Codes should

include statements on the importance of suitable education and training in maximum welfare in intensive systems. The

review process should take account of the views of the

industries, industry service providers, consumer and

animal welfare organisations, and specialist ethologists.

(Paragraph 15.7)

40. Noting that each State and Territory Government has the

responsibility to implement policies and enact and upgrade

existing legislation which it thinks will best enhance

animal welfare within its jurisdiction the Committee

recommends:

(a) legislation for the prevention of cruelty to animals and other relevant Acts specify that Codes

of Practice for the welfare of animals must be

followed; and

(b) that State and Territory Governments around

Australia develop a complementary legislative and

regulatory approach to animal welfare.

(Paragraph 15.9)

x xv ii

Conclusion

Standards for Husbandry Systems

41. Noting that standards are set for a range of commodities

which are released onto the market the Committee

recommends that governments with responsibility in this

area develop standards for new and modified animal

husbandry systems. (Paragraph 16.4)

xxviii

PART ONE

INTRODUCTION

CHAPTER 1

OVERVIEW

1.1 Australians face a challenge over the next decade in

balancing the forces which impact on their standard of living. In

order to prosper as a nation we must lift our production

performance while at the same time lower the exploitative nature

of progress and development to date.

1.2 This report highlights these forces in the examination

of animal welfare issues and concerns associated with the pig,

egg and broiler chicken industries. They can best be summed up as

follows:

The Government is working to develop a more prosperous Australia, with much better economic performance, improved standards of living, enhanced quality of life, and greater

care for our environment. Such human progress can only come from the expansion and more efficient use of our productive capacity - our human skills, capital, technology and natural resources. Government Statement by John Kerin, Minister

for Primary Industries and Energy and Peter Cook, Minister for Resources, May 1989.1

Shifts in lifestyles and increased disposable incomes have changed what, when and how people eat. People are increasing their demand for convenience, nutrition, variety and quality.

... This is impacting right through the whole agribusiness system i.e. through distributors, processors and traders, to rural producers and the suppliers of their inputs. The implication of these is profound. For example, it must be recognised that consumers do not buy meat as

such, but rather a certain cut of a certain kind of meat which has desirable attributes.

3

These attributes will vary from market to market, and will change over time. A failure to meet those requirements means lower return to producers and all others involved in the system, or no returns at all. It is as simple as that. Mr Keith Lawson, Managing Director, Elders Pastoral, speaking at the Outlook 90 National Agricultural and Resources Conference.2

I think what you should really be asking for the purposes of investigation of intensive farming is: 'Is this at all a tolerable life for the animals, looking at the life as a

whole?'. I believe that if you look at the cases of intensive farming and a life that basically consists of a year to 18 months

being crowded into a battery cage and then getting thrown out and killed, or in the cases of a breeding sow, say months on end spent

unable to walk around, turn around,

socialising in the normal way, simply lying there with nothing to do, then I think that it is pretty clear that that is not a tolerable life for an animal. I think that minimum

standards ought to be implemented to make sure that they can have for the duration something that we can regard as a reasonable life to inflict on another creature. Professor Peter Singer, Vice-President, Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal Societies in evidence to Committee,

II August 1989.3

1.3 Intensive livestock production is an issue which is now

on the political agenda of most developed countries around the

world. This has occurred because changes over recent decades to livestock husbandry have made farm animal welfare a controversial

issue. Although abuse can occur under all systems there is a

feeling that the intensification of livestock husbandry has been

associated with a deterioration in the welfare of farm animals.

1.4 Prior to the 1960s there was relatively little community

interest in, or concern about, the welfare of farm animals apart

from the long-held belief that they should be treated humanely.

Within 'developed', more affluent societies, however, along with

a general awakening and growth of consumerism, environmentalism,

naturalism, questioning of materialism and general 'activism' in

the 1960s, came a growth in concern about the way animals were

being treated and the ethics of animal production methods.

4

1.5 Specific community concern about the intensification of animal production led the British Government to set up a

Technical Committee, Chaired by Professor F.R.W. Brambell, in

1964 to inquire into animal welfare.4 There have been other

inquiries since then as well as changes to animal welfare laws -

notably in Holland, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and the United Kingdom.

Intensive Systems Defined

1.6 There are obviously varying degrees of intensification,

but to most people the word 'intensive' implies that the

husbandry system is carried out within buildings and involves either the crowding of large groups of animals within restricted

spaces, e.g. fattening pigs kept on concrete floored pens and

table birds reared in broiler houses, or the confining of one or more animals in small crates, stalls or cages, e.g. crate-reared

pigs and laying hens in cages. In most cases the air around the

animals is kept within certain temperature and humidity ranges by

mechanical devices (i.e. a controlled environment), food and

water is usually supplied ad libitum and in many of the systems bedding is not provided (broilers on deep litter floors being the

exception to this).5

1.7 The food provided is usually of a high nutritional

value, and disease levels are kept down by the adoption of high

standards of hygiene, by the use of vaccines and, in some cases,

by the regular incorporation of antibiotics into the food. Many of the routine tasks, such as the dispensing of food and water

and the removal of dung, have been mechanised and it is possible

for large numbers of animals to be looked after by a small number

of attendants.^

1.8 Over the last 30 to 40 years strains of poultry and pigs have been deliberately selected to thrive, i.e. to grow and

produce well, in intensive systems. It is presumed that these

animals have become adapted to the environmental conditions

5

imposed on them. The extreme forms of intensive husbandry carried

out entirely within buildings and which are independent of the

use of the surrounding land have been labelled by some as

'factory farming'.7

Benefits of Intensive Husbandry

1.9 The benefits of intensive husbandry, from man's point of

view are as follows.

1. The encouragement of maximum production - daily live

weight gains and egg yields.

2. Efficient food conversion, due partly to the

controlled environment and partly to the improved

genetic make-up of the animals.

3. The maximum utilisation of the equipment and

buildings.

4. A reduction in the number of workers needed to look

after the animals. This factor is possibly the one

which brings about the greatest saving in costs.®

1.10 Some animals are intensively kept throughout their

lives. Table birds, for example, are placed in a broilerhouse as

day-old chicks and kept there for the whole of their 12-14 weeks

of life only leaving the building on their final journey to the

processing works. On the other hand, fattening pigs and laying

poultry, with more easily separated stages in their relatively

long lives, can have parts of their production regimes

intensified, while other parts can be less intensive.®

1.11 These separate stages may be carried out on different

farms or in different sites on the same farm. It is usual

nowadays for the fattening or laying stages to be intensified, but there is an increasing tendency to start intensification

earlier.

6

1.12 Obvious benefits for the animals are freedom from

malnutrition, vagaries of the weather, and parasitic infestation.

Indeed intensive livestock production is undertaken in intensive

conditions largely because there is improved control over the

environment variables which limit health and productivity.

Although significant advances have been made in nutrition, genetics and health, environmental design in animal housing has,

until recently, been concerned mainly with climatic control,

labour-saving devices and hygiene. Little attention has been paid

to the effects of housing on behaviour. In addition the focus of research, innovation and advisory effort over recent decades has

been upon controlled environment intensive techniques, which has

often affected the rate at which less intensive techniques have

been developed.

Welfare Concerns

1.13 The argument advanced by those opposing intensive

systems is that close confinement is ill-treatment because it deprives livestock of the opportunity to express physiological

and ethological needs and behaviour.

1.14 Opponents are seeking answers to questions about the

level of suffering, the amount of fear, the degree of frustration

and the severity of pain or discomfort experienced by intensively

kept livestock under particular systems or during specific procedures. The industries themselves, and other interested groups and individuals including research scientists are looking

for answers to questions about these issues but some are not

directly accessible to scientific investigation. These involve an animal's subjective feelings including whether or not it is

suffering mentally.

1.15 Animal welfare organisations in Australia acknowledge

that any usage of animals by man inevitably involves some degree

of restriction on the animal's activities and some modification

to its environment. However, they consider that the extreme forms

7

of intensive husbandry which have evolved in recent years and

which restrict movement, space allowance and social contacts

raises serious quality of life questions for these food animals.

1.16 Professor Singer, representing the Australian and New

Zealand Federation of Animal Societies, stated in evidence that:

... if one takes the total quantity of

suffering that is involved then the greatest animal welfare issue of them all is intensive farming, because of the enormous number of animals involved in it and because of the prolonged duration of the suffering that occurs. Animals in intensive farming are

suffering, not just for a few moments or hours or even days, but for months continually; and the numbers of animals involved run into billions, if one looks at it on a world-wide

level. Certainly the numbers run into the hundreds of millions in Australia alone. 11

1.17 Professor Singer believes that the free market system

coupled with modern technology has turned farms into factories

and farm animals into commodities12 and that there are

economically viable alternatives to the more extreme intensive

livestock production practices.

1.18 Farmers and the industries generally acknowledge the

economic pressures on the industry but do not accept that they

compromise welfare to the extent claimed by those opposing

intensification. They argue that all systems have an impact on

the social and physical environment and are concerned about

inexperienced observers making judgements based on perceptions

rather than knowledge. They are especially critical of arguments

which rely on the attributions of human emotions and motives to animals. In short they are concerned that many of the concerns of

critics are unfounded, critics ignore welfare aspects of

extensive systems, and they propose the adoption of commercially

untenable husbandry measures.

8

1.19 The Australian Pig Industry Policy Council stated in its

submission that:

While community concern about animal welfare has been a more recent phenomenon, farmers have for generations generally treated their livestock in a humane and considerate manner.

Good farmers have always been aware that proper animal care and profitability are inexorably linked. To farmers, animal welfare is part and parcel of practical animal

husbandry.

The farming community is justifiably

suspicious that the more extreme activist groups have an agenda which goes well beyond improved animal welfare and includes not only total vegetarianism for the community but the transformation of society into a classless democracy where the profit motive is replaced with public co-operative ownership. (Social Alternative Vol. 5, (2), pp. 17-20)1-3

1.20 All parties to this inquiry demonstrated a real concern

for the welfare of food animals and agreed that the least

stressful effective methods of production should be used. At

issue is the extent to which welfare is affected by intensified production, the -importance of components of the production system

most likely to impose suffering, and the ethological needs of the

livestock involved.

1.21 So it is generally accepted in Australia that evaluation

of intensive systems, processes and practices for livestock

production is essential in order to meet the responsibility to

remove undue suffering and that these systems can influence

behaviour and welfare either through their effects on the

animal's social environment or by providing a very artificial

physical environment. One of the problems associated with

measuring changes in behaviour of a domestic species is in trying

to decide what is 'normal' or 'natural'.

9

1.22 Scientists in Australia, with the support and

encouragement of the pig and poultry industries, have been

grappling with this problem. It is central to the animal welfare

debate and has led researchers to recognise that behavioural

research is a major element in establishing objectivity in

relationship to the aversiveness of some conditions and

practices, and in establishing the validity or otherwise of

charges of deprivation levelled at conditions in intensive

industries in the case of particular classes of animal.

Conclusion

1.23 Any discussion of animal welfare involves both ethical

and practical considerations. Whether improvements can and should

be made depends on complex social and biological priorities. Incomplete knowledge about the technical and economic potential

of different methods of husbandry compounds the problem. In

addition, Australian society is an urban society - the majority

of our population live in cities and have had little exposure to

animal husbandry in any form - and so there is potential for

misunderstanding, for rural romanticisation, and over-reaction.

1.24 An informed debate is now due. It must be Australia

based, relevant to Australian conditions, and open to overseas

knowledge and experience.

1.25 It cannot take place without at least some answers being

found concerning fundamental issues such as:

• whether intensive systems deny the welfare of

animals; •

• whether animals should be able to undertake

particular innate behaviours;

10

whether an animal bred and reared in a series of generations really does suffer some sense of

deprivation about the things it is denied access to;

whether the proposed alternative systems can produce the quantity and quality of food that society seems

to demand;

whether they are capable of producing this food at a

price society is willing to pay;

whether the systems have a true welfare advantage for

the animals?

11

ENDNOTES

1. Government Statement by John Kerin, Minister for Primary

Industries and Energy and Peter Cook, Minister for

Resources, May 1989. Research, Innovation and Competitiveness. Policies for Reshaping Australia's

Primary Industries and Energy Portfolios Research and

Development, p. 1.

2. K. Lawson, 'International Marketing Strategies for the

1990s - an Australian rural industry perspective', Outlook

90 - National Agricultural and Resources Outlook

Conference, Canberra, 30 January-1 February 1990, Ses.sion

15, p. 6.

3. Evidence, Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal

Societies, p. 9470.

4. Report of the Technical Committee to Enquire into the

Welfare of Animals Kept Under Intensive Livestock

Husbandry Systems, HMSO, London, 1965. That Committee's reference was: To examine the conditions in which

livestock are kept under systems of intensive husbandry

and to advise whether standards ought to be set in the

interests of their welfare, and if so what they should be.

(P· 1)

5. Roger Ewbank, MVSc, MRCVS, FIBiol, Director UFAW,

'Alternatives: Definitions and Doubts', in Alternatives to Intensive Husbandry Systems, Proceedings of a Symposium

held at Wye College (University of London), Ashfort Kent,

July 1981, Published by The Universities Federation for

Animal Welfare, 8 Hamilton Close, South Mimms, Potters

Bar, Hertfordshire, p. 5.

6. ibid.

7. ibid.

12

8. ibid.

9. ibid.

10. ibid.

11. Evidence, Australian Societies, 9453.

and New Zealand Federation of Animal

12. ibid.

13. Evidence, Australian p. S8794.

Pig Industry Policy Council,

13

CHAPTER 2

THE DEVELOPMENT AND IMPORTANCE OF INTENSIVE LIVESTOCK INDUSTRIES IN AUSTRALIA

Production and Consumption

2.1 The intensive pig and poultry industries in this country are dynamic and adaptive industries which contribute

significantly to the economy and to the daily diets of most

Australians. As with the farm sector generally these industries

also generate activity in:

• the manufacture, transport, handling, wholesaling,

retailing and financing of farm inputs;

• the provision of contract services;

• the handling, financing, transporting and

merchandising of farm products, along with

• the supply of inputs to these downstream activities.

2.2 The following table provides an establishments profile

of these industries which provide food, employment, and generate

economic activity in the millions.

15

Table 2.1: Agricultural Establishments (a), 31 March 1989

Description NSW Vic . Qld SA WA Tas. NT ACT Aust.

(b)

Poultry for meat 374 123 89 57 50 12 - - 705

Poultry for eggs 225 150 146 55 93 18 3 1 691

Pigs 570 252 554 270 139 58 1 - 1,844

(a) Establishments with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $20,000 or more.

SOURCE: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Agricultural Industries, Structure of Operating Units, Australia, 31 March 1989 (7102.0)

2.3 In 1988-89 for example the pig, poultry meat and egg

industries had a gross value of production of $1,673.5 million-*-.

2.4 Tables 2.2, 2.3 and 2.4 provide comparative details over

eight years of the gross value of agricultural commodities

produced in Australia, production of meat by type and numbers of

livestock slaughtered for human consumption.

2.5 Governments around Australia assist these industries to

produce optimum levels of production at a competitive price. This

goal is addressed by conducting research, providing advisory and

diagnostic services, encouraging improvement in technology

applied and, where necessary, implementing regulatory procedures

to maintain standards and protect resources.2

16

Table 2.2: Production of Meat by Type (a) ('000 tonnes)

Year

Carcass weight

Dress weight (b)

Beef Veal Mutton Lamb

Total all

Pig Total poultry

meat Meat Chickens (c)

1983-84 1,303 42 169 296 253 2,064 272 298

1984-85 1,271 39 215 301 260 2,086 315 345

1985-86 1,344 41 258 320 269 2,232 334 367

1986-87 1,481 40 288 296 283 2,388 345 384

1987-88 1,549 39 293 293 297 2,471 362 -

1988-89 1,459 32 254 290 308 2,343 368

(a) Excludes offal, (b) Dressed weight of whole birds, pieces and giblets. (c ) Includes other fowls, turkeys, ducks and drakes.3

SOURCE: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Livestock Products, Australia, April 1990, (7215 .0) .

Table 2.3: Numbers of Livestock and Poultry Slaughtered J Eor Human Consumption (million head)

Other fowls ducks

Chickens (b) & and

Year Cattle Calves Sheep Lambs Pigs (a) turkeys drakes

1983-84 6.0 1.3 8.4 17.1 4.4 216.2 10.2 1.7

1984-85 5.8 1.2 10.5 17.5 4.5 244.2 10.7 2.1

1985-86 6.2 1.2 12.9 19.1 4.5 258.4 11.8 2.3

1986-87 6.8 1.2 14.7 17.7 4.7 269.3 11.2 2.1

1987-88 6.9 1.2 15.0 17.2 4.9 273.6 - -

1988-89 6.3 1.0 12.4 16.5 5.0 274.1

"

(a) Comprises broilers, fryers and roasters, (b) Comprises hens, roosters, etc.*

SOURCE: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Livestock Products, Australia, April 1990, (7215.0).

17

Table 2.4: GROSS VAGUE OF AGRICULTURAL COMMODITIES PRODUCED ($ million)

1983-84 1984-85 1985-86 1986-87 1987-88 1988-89p

Crops-Barley for grain Oats for grain Wheat for grain

Other cereal grains Sugar cane cut for crushing Fruit and nuts Grapes Vegetables All other crops (a) Total crops

Livestock slaughterings and other disposals (b)- Cattle and calves (c) Sheep and lambs

Pigs Poultry-Total livestock slaughterings and other disposals

Livestock products- Wool Milk Eggs Total livestock products (d)

Total value of agricultural ccmnodities produced

732.6 759.3 586.8

203.8 129.6 138.3

3,605.6 3,202.9 2,719.4 408.7 400.8 346.3

516.6 512.2 494.2

552.5 670.9 678.6

217.0 259.4 270.0

738.6 628.8 713.6

1,451.1 1,303.5 1,430.5 8,426.5 7,867.4 7,377.7

2,118.0 2,253.2 2,367.3 585.0 576.1 531.6

375.5 438.1 438.3

430.2 512.6 559.1

3,508.6 3,783.3 3,896.4

2,016.1 2,434.4 2,693.4 1,153.2 1,035.4 1,106.7 295.2 291.2 297.7

3,489.8 3,792.8 4,125.3

15,424.9 15,443.5 15,406.0

432.6 459.8 570.0

164.8 195.0 224.5

2,530.0 2,015.7 2,866.1 322.4 402.3 406.0

586.4 618.2 770.7

837.2 886.0 936.7

272.2 353.7 403.7

885.4 952.9 1,092.8

1,706.7 1,928.4 2,155.5 7,737.7 7,812.0 9,426.0

2,819.7 3,057.0 3,144.6 721.2 803.9 712.3

468.5 536.1 620.0

601.7 671.2 717.0

4,611.0 5,074.3 5,194.0

3,333.6 5,516.6 5,925.7 1,257.4 1,390.0 1,606.9 291.6 304.4 336.5

4,915.6 7,256.2 7,916.2

17,272.5 20,151.8 22,546.5

(a) Includes pastures and grasses cut for hay and harvested for seed. Excludes crops for green feed or silage. (b) Includes net exports of livsetock. (c) Includes dairy cattle slaughtered. (d) Includes goat milk, honey and beeswax.

SOURCE: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Value of Agricultural Cormoiities Produced, Australia, 1988-89, Preliminary (7502.0).

p - preliminary

Role of Governments

2.6 Broadly speaking the goals of State primary industry

portfolio departments around Australia are to benefit the

community by maintaining and improving agriculture in keeping

with the need for long term sustainability:

• to increase the productivity of agriculture

industries;

• to provide market oriented services to maximise

opportunities for the development of competitive agricultural enterprises;

• to protect agricultural resources and the environment

generally;

• to protect the consumer and benefit the producer by

ensuring the marketing of wholesome acceptable

produce.5

2.7 The Commonwealth Government's objective in agriculture is to foster the development of efficient, low cost,

internationally competitive, innovative and adaptable livestock

and pastoral industries and so further enhance their contribution

to the Australian economy.6

2.8 In its industries assistance and development role the

Commonwealth assists industry through a variety of measures including direct financial assistance, taxation concessions,

guaranteed domestic price and other marketing arrangements,

financial guarantees, a degree of selective preference for local

industries in Commonwealth sector purchasing policy, the customs

tariff, and import quota restrictions.7

19

2.9 Direct financial assistance from the Budget is provided

in several forms: bounties and other subsidies, price support and

adjustment schemes, development projects primarily in support of

industry, disease eradication schemes, contributions to research

and promotion, and other outlays to or for the benefit of

industry. It includes outlays of some departments and

organisations which service industry (eg. the Departments of

Industry, Technology and Commerce, Primary Industries and Energy,

and the Australian Tourist Commission). Such departments and

organisations provide many services either free of charge or for

charges which do not recover fully the costs involved.®

Economic and social pressures

2.10 As with primary industry generally, producers of food

animals are at the end of a long line of economic and social

pressures a fact which is highlighted in a major Commonwealth

Government primary industries and resources policies for growth

statement released in May 1988.

While the challenge of restructuring industry and improving our competitiveness is clear, the underlying objective is often overlooked. The end result of an improved economic

performance is that there are more and better jobs, and people can enjoy higher incomes and living standards and more readily achieve their individual goals and aspirations.

Underpinning the economic policy reforms are the Government's social goals of greater and more equal opportunity, substantial

improvements in living standards, an enhanced quality of life for all Australians and care for our environment. While objectives for the primary industries and energy sector are expressed in terms of efficient economic and resource management principles, it is progress towards these social goals that is the

ultimate outcome of improved economic

performance.

Our long-term objectives can be grouped into three important areas:

20

Enhancing our productive Capacity- Developing a more responsive and productive industry structure Influencing and responding to the external

environment.^

2.11 The economic pressures on farmers were highlighted in

Outlook 90 National Agricultural and Resources Conference.

Speaking on the subject of rural debt Dr John Marsden, Director of Research with the Australian Bankers Association, noted that since 1950 the number of farms in Australia has fallen by more

than 36,000; an average of almost 1,000 each year. Since the mid

1960s the number of farmers has fallen by 10,000, or around 400

each year. While many farmers leaving the land either retired, or

have used their success in the rural sector to pursue other

ventures, the majority have left because of loss of financial

viability. However, loss of financial viability is usually

closely correlated with other evidence that the farm is not a sustainable enterprise. Loss of financial viability means that

the debt levels can no longer be serviced from available cash

flow. Essential requirements for long term survival are the control of debt levels relative to production size, together with

the capacity to modify activities to meet market conditions.10

Development of intensification

2.12 Over the past 30 years there have been significant

changes to the structure of the pig and poultry industries,

changes which have been due to economic pressures, scientific and

technological advances and consumer demands. Pigmeat and poultry

production are considered to be among the most scientifically

based commercial industries in Australia.H Confinement housing

of pigs and poultry was first implemented in Australia to improve

productivity, to produce better working conditions for stockpersons, to reduce labour input per head of livestock and

increase efficiency of production. The increasing availability of

antimicrobial substances capable of controlling outbreaks of

disease of bacterial origin and for the use as a strategic tool

for preventive health programs assisted the intensification of these industries.-*-2

21

2.13 The following details are from industry profiles

published in the Australian Bureau of Statistics' Year Book

Australia 1989.

2.14 Up until the early 1960s pigs were raised as part of a

dairying operation where there were abundant supplies of liquid skim milk. With the introduction of factory separation of milk

and cream, coupled with the low grain prices of the 1960s, pig

raising has become more and more associated with grain

production. -*-3

2.15 In addition there has been a major move away from the so called extensive method of pig raising to the intensive

conditions that apply today. This has meant an increase in the

capital investment in the industry and a greater degree of

specialisation in pig raising. The average pig production unit

today would be based on approximately 300 sows with feeds being

almost exclusively grain based. While the number of sows in

Australia has remained fairly constant the number of pig farmers

has decreased.34

2.16 Capital investment and corporate takeovers have seen the

emergence of a few large companies producing 30 per cent of all pigs sold in Australia. These moves on top of the trend to more

intensive and efficient production techniques have seen pigmeat

production rise steadily since 1982 to reach 285,000 tonnes in

1987-88. In addition, there has been an increase in the slaughter

weights of pigs reflecting the demands of the fresh pork trade.15

2.17 It is believed that about 60 per cent of production is

processed into bacon, hams and smallgoods, with the rest sold as

fresh pork. Less than 2 per cent of the industry's output is

exported. The increasing production of pigmeat therefore reflects

a steady increase in per capita domestic consumption over the

past three years.36

22

2.18 The commercial poultry industry comprising

hatcheryworkers, egg producers and broiler growers is highly

specialised, although a proportion of production comes from

'backyard' egg producers. There are also separate research

schemes funded jointly by industry and government for the egg and

meat chicken industries but close liaison exists. Both sectors are good examples of specialised, large scale, capital-intensive

production.*-7

2.19 The poultry meat industry developed rapidly in the 1970s with both output and consumption rising steeply, although in

recent years production has exceeded demand and excess production

capacity in the industry continues. Genetic and technical

improvements and the organisation of the industry into

large-scale enterprises have raised efficiency and helped to

reduce production costs relative to other meats. The price

competitiveness of chicken meat compared with other meats, especially beef, continues to improve, consolidating the position

of poultry meat as the second most important meat after beef in

Australian diets.-*·®

2.20 In a paper to the Outlook 90 Conference entitled

'Australian Meat: A Decade of Opportunity', Michael Blyth from

the Australian Bureau of Agricultural Resource Economics (ABARE)

forecast a continuation of the expansion of Australia's livestock

industries in the short term under the influence of relatively

favourable returns for most livestock products.-*-®

2.21 He added that new technologies, including genetic engineering techniques and improved management practices are

expected to provide the basis for additional gains in efficiency in the intensive livestock industries over the medium term.20

Table 2.5 summarising forecasts and projections for pigs and

poultry are from an ABARE table presented with this paper.

23

(a) Fresh, chilled or frozen shipped weight. (b) Includes canned and miscellaneous meats. (p) Preliminary, (s) ABARE estimate. (f) ABARE forecast. (z) ABARE projection. Sources: Australian Bureau of Statistics (1989a, b); Australian meat and Livestock Corporation; ABARE.

SOURCE: 1990 National Agricultural and Resources Outlook Conference Paper, Australian Meat: A Decade of Opportunity, ABARE p. 2 (session 9)

Consumer and Farm Cost Pressures

2.22 It is expected however that farm input costs will rise.

Farm inputs are all those goods and services that a farmer needs

to carry on the profession of farming. Any changes that affect

farmers such as climatic conditions, commodity prices or environmental pressure influence the use of agricultural inputs.

2.23 These issues were also highlighted at the Outlook 90

Conference. In a paper entitled 'Expected Developments in the

Use of Agricultural Inputs', Graham Foster, Managing Director of Combined Rural Traders Limited, warned that tight economic

conditions in Australia will probably see farmers spending more

on inputs than on capital expenditure in the year ahead. He drew

attention to the fact that consumer and community pressures on

agricultural inputs usage is a dominant theme today and

highlighted the input cost implications.21

2.24 Consumer concerns about what fertilisers and chemicals are used to produce safe and high quality food will have

implications for farmers and input producers alike in the years

to come. Foster argues that the rate of food and fibre production

needs to be constantly increased to cope with the growth in world

population growth. A balanced approach to safety from consumers,

the media, farmers, the scientific community, politicians and

manufacturers is essential if the benefits of high technology are

to be understood and appreciated by future consumers.22

2.25 He stressed the point that worldwide interest in food

residues by consumer bodies will pressure governments into

maintaining strong control through regulation and initiating more environmental research activity as opposed to production research

and development activity.2^

2.26 A further impact on farmers is consumer driven demand.

As indicated on page one of this report (in a quote from Mr Keith

Lawson, Managing Director of Elders Pastoral) diet consciousness

and fashion have important implications for producers. In his

25

paper to the Outlook 90 Conference Keith Lawson said that the

entire vertical food system needs to become pro-active in

creating what the consumer wants, that is, value. A major

implication of this is that we can longer view what we produce in rural industry as a commodity. We must generate extra value for

consumers according to their ever-changing needs.24 Consumer

driven demand means the need for marketing and speedy responses

throughout the chain in order to meet consumer needs and generate

value. The alternative to a marketing led approach is stagnation and a declining position for our rural products.25

2.27 Some animal rights activists consider that individual

farmers are on the whole too isolationist. They need to become

much more involved in consumer concerns. Jim Mason and Peter

Singer write, in their book ANIMAL FACTORIES: The mass production

of animals for food and how it affects the lives of consumers, farmers, and the animals themselves, published in 1980 that:

The natural forces of commodity marketing are the primary cause of ... sectarianism and

specialization in agriculture. With hard times nearly always in sight for independent

farmers, they tend to turn to the one crop or type of livestock operation that provides the most security ... they dare not whisper about the immense power that commodities traders and other agribusiness interests have over them.

... With a truly progressive attitude about food and environmental issues, farmers could gain a fair amount of muscle in coalition with groups working on these issues. Farmers who ignore these trends, or who fight for the narrow goal of making the agricultural status quo more profitable, can expect deepening powerlessness and an increasing trend towards expensive, complicated farming as agribusiness promotes its same old self-serving technology, and government slaps on controls in response to consumer concerns for the environment and food quality.26

2.28 Animal welfare is not an issue which is included in the

cost equation debates over agricultural productivity, at least

not at the national conference level. Clearly it is not yet seen

in the agribusiness sector to be a significant consumer pressure

issue in Australia.

26

2.29 The peak bodies associated with intensive pig and

poultry industries recognise the implications of activism in this

area. Industry bodies and veterinary and government service

providers argued in this inquiry that consumers would have to pay

higher prices if intensive farming techniques were radically

modified or abandoned altogether. However neither they nor the

peak animal society bodies have offered any quantifiable information on the question of costs.

Conclusion

2.30 It is time now in Australia for a rigorous discussion of

these matters and it is vital that farmers take an active part. Vital because they are close to the animals in their care and to input cost impact and they are at the start of a long

agribusiness chain which gets stronger as it moves away from the

farm gate.

27

ENDNOTES

1. Australian Bureau of Statistics Year Book Australia 1989,

p. 390, reproduced in this Chapter in Table 4.

2. State Departments of Agriculture/Primary Industries Annual

Reports.

3. The ABS collects details of slaughterings and meat

production from abattoirs, commercial poultry and other

slaughtering establishments and includes estimates of

animals slaughtered on farms and by country butchers. The

data relate only to slaughterings for human consumption

and do not include animals condemned or those killed for

boiling down.

4. See Footnote 4.

5. State Departments of Agricultural Primary Industries

Annual Reports.

6. Commonwealth Department of Primary Industries and Energy

Annual Report 1988-89, p. 21.

7. Budget Paper No. 1, 1989-90, p. 216

8. ibid.

9. Primary Industries and Resources Policy for Growth, A

Government Policy Statement by John Kerin, Minister for

Primary Industries and Energy and Peter Cook, Minister for

Resources, May 1988, AGPS, p. 4.

10. Dr J. Marsden, 'Rural Debt, Mediation and the ABA/NFF Scheme', Outlook 90 National Agricultural and Resources

Conference, Canberra, 30 January-1 February 1990, Session

4, p. 1.

28

Australian Encyclopaedia, Fourth Edition, 1983, p. 50.

Evidence, Australian Veterinary Association, p. S9022,

S9030.

Australian Bureau of Statistics Yearbook Australia 1989,

p. 424.

ibid.

ibid., p. 427.

ibid.

ibid., p. 424.

ibid., p. 427.

M. Biyth, 'Australian Meat: A Decade of Opportunity',

Outlook 90 National Agricultural and Resources Outlook

Conference, Canberra, 30 January-1 February 1990, Session

9, p. 7-9.

Ibid, p. 7-8.

G. Foster, 'Expected Developments in the Use of

Agricultural Inputs', Outlook 90 National Agricultural and

Resources Outlook Conference, 30 January-1 February 1990,

Session 4, p. 1.

ibid.

ibid, p. 1-2. \

K. Lawson, Outlook 90 National Agricultural and Resources Outlook Conference, 30 January-1 February 1990, Session

15, p. 6. \

25. ibid, p. 11.

26. J. Mason and P. Singer, 'Animal Factories: The Mass

Production of Animals for Food and How it Affects the

Lives of Consumers, Farmers and the Animals Themselves',

Crown Publishers, New York, 1980, pp. 141-2.

30

CHAPTER 3

WELFARE AND WELFARE ASSESSMENT

Welfare Definitions and Concepts

3.1 The task of defining animal welfare is extremely

difficult and has taxed the abilities of numerous expert committees in a number of countries.It is a term which lacks

precise definition because it is a multifaceted concept caught up

in an ideological tangle. To that extent welfare is, as Carpenter

has defined it:

... not unitary but is the algebraic sum of

dozens of different parameters, most of which are relative rather than absolute.*

3.2 The Technical Committee to Enquire into the Welfare of

Animals kept under Intensive Livestock Husbandry Systems (the

Brambell Committee) established in 1964 by the British Government^ brought down a report which was a benchmark in the

animal welfare debate.

3.3 The Technical Committee's deliberations were strongly

influenced by contemporary behavioural ideas3 and it defined

welfare as being:

... a wide term that embraces both the

physical and mental well being of the animal. Any attempt to evaluate welfare therefore, must take into account the scientific evidence available concerning the feelings of animals

that can be derived from their structure and functions and also from their behaviour.4

31

3.4 Submissions to this inquiry have mainly quoted other

people when attempting to define the term animal welfare. The

concept of physiological and behavioural (ethological) needs of animals is generally accepted in Australia. The debate today

revolves around whether there are specific conditions that result

in physiological or behavioural responses that are in themselves

the result of undue suffering or are indications of such a

state.^

3.5 Environmental design in animal housing has, until

recently, been concerned mainly with climate control,

labour-saving devices and hygiene. Little attention has been paid

to the effects of housing on behaviour.6 The increasing public

focus and stress aspects which have affected productivity have

seen an increase in investigations of this kind.

3.6 Of course, what we want to know ultimately is whether or

not animals are suffering. The term 'suffering' implies a particular type of mental experience; a subjective feeling.

Subjective feelings are not accessible to scientific

investigations but that does not mean that they do not exist.^

3.7 During this inquiry it was repeatedly stated that we can only advance our insight into concepts like animal welfare if we

succeed in advancing our scientific knowledge of basic behaviour.

3.8 Professor A.R. Egan and Dr D.G. Hutson from the Animal Production Section of the School of Agriculture and Forestry,

University of Melbourne have submitted to this Committee that:

Any environmental factor or practice which can be identified as a cause of suffering or

stress should receive attention resulting in modification of management practices. The interests of production are served, since it is likely that stress is reflected in reduced productivity of the animals. There are some practices in production systems which appear to most observers to be undesirable. These require two kinds of research which are often linked. One is to evaluate the degree of suffering involved since it may be that while

32

to the observer the conditions are abhorrent, they do not offend against the needs of the animals. The other is to address the perceived or imputed causes of psychological and

behavioural reactions around which

welfare/suffering issues arise and find alternative ways of achieving the objectives of management.®

Welfare Assessment

3.9 All criteria used to assess welfare rely on showing some

evidence of change. For example, changes associated with the

stress response have been widely used as physiological indicators

of welfare due to the belief that if stress increases, welfare

decreases. Changes in behaviour, particularly the occurrence of

abnormal behaviour have also been used as behavioural indicators

of welfare. It was repeatedly stated in evidence to this

Committee that it is important to recognise that change per-se is

not an indication of a change in welfare; animals' behaviour and

physiology are continually being adjusted to maintain equilibrium with the environment (homoeostasis) and animals are obviously not

in a continual state of changing welfare because of these

continued adjustments. The important question for welfare

research in both physiology and behaviour is "at what level of

change is welfare at risk?"9

3.10 Dr Barnett, Senior Research Scientist with the Victorian

Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs and Scientific

Advisor to the Australian Pig Industry Policy Council, said in

evidence that:

... Whatever measure we look at in trying to assess welfare all we are looking at is a change. It is a change in physiology or a

change in behaviour and with physiology the question we are trying to come to grips with at the moment, and one has to come to grips with it first in what we are trying to do, is at what level of change is welfare at risk? So physiologically when we assess stress in animals we say that there is evidence that these animals are stressed from hormone measurements. But that does not mean their welfare is at risk. You then go and look at

33

the consequences to the animal of that change in hormone level. If you start finding

consequences which can be indicative of nutritional problems or energy problems by going to energy deficit; it has effects on the immune system; it has effects on production. Once you start finding those effects of the consequence of stress you say, who is at risk? That is what we are trying to do

physiologically. Behaviourally I do not think they are so far advanced.

Vices and Stereotypic Behaviour

3.11 Several classes of abnormal behaviour have been

recognised in intensive systems.

3.12 The following clarification and comment concerning pigs

is from a conference paper by J.L. Barnett and G.D. Hutson and

presented to the inaugural conference of the Australian Pig

Science Association held in Albury in 1987.

(1) Vices, which are destructive behaviour patterns resulting in injury or damage to the performer or pen mates. These behaviour patterns may be originally derived from motivational systems concerning aggressive,

feeding, grooming or exploratory behaviour. Obvious examples are ear-and tail-biting. There is universal agreement that these severe forms of abnormal behaviour are indicative of reduced welfare since they lead to physical injury, and on occasions, death.

(2) Stereotypies, which are usually defined as morphologically identical movements which are repeated regularly, are unusual, and have no apparent function (Odberg, 1986). Examples are bar biting, sham chewing (also referred to as vacuum chewing or champing), rhythmic snout rubbing, head weaving, etc. The well-being of animals performing stereotyped behaviour is open to dispute as some authors have argued that the animal is responding to a barren environment by creating its own stimulation or arousal. The aetiology of stereotypes is complex ...

(3) Apathetic behaviours such as motionless standing and sitting have been recognised as abnormal behaviour (Wiepkema, 1983; Broom, 1986 ) .

34

Unlike the preciseness of the physiological concept of stress, the underlying causation of abnormal behaviour is complex and varied. Thus vices may develop as a response to boredom

(van Putten, 1969), stereotypies may be a response to restraint by a tether (Cronin, 1985), frustration of feeding behaviour (Rushen, 1985), or boredom from

understimulation in a barren environment (Kiley-Worthington, 1977), and apathetic behaviour may be a reflection of "learned helplessness". (Fox, 1984)

The occurrence of abnormal behaviour is generally acknowledged to indicate the presence of discord between animal and

environment. This should alert us to the possibility that welfare may be at risk and that a more detailed examination is

necessary.

3.13 A number of stereotypies have been identified in

poultry. Fox has noted that:

Pacing behaviour in poultry can become a highly stereotyped action, occurring when the bird is frustrated or is attempting to avoid some threatening stimulus (Duncan and

Wood-Gush, 1971). Duncan and Wood-Gush (1972b) studied the effects of thwarting of feeding behaviour in poultry and concluded that displacement preening is associated with mild and short-term frustration and stereotyped pacing movements with long-term and intense

frustration. Intense frustration may be aversive and lead to escape movements, which develop into stereotyped pacing movements that are fixated in the bird's behavioural

repertoire. ... Wood-Gush (1972) has

demonstrated a greater susceptibility of one strain of laying hens to frustration pacing when confined in battery cages. His study shows that the husbandry system can create

such behavioural abnormalities in genetically susceptible strains.12

3.14 Preening and redirected pecking are also recognised

displacement behaviours in poultry and indicative of frustration.

Fox has argued that the head-flick stereotypy in poultry has been

interpreted:

35

... as a repetitive stereotypy caused by

monotony, movement, restraint and social isolation, which individually or together lead to a reduction in sensory input.*3

3.15 As with many stereotyped behaviours, the repetitive

movements may be a compensatory action to increase sensory

input. -*-4

3.16 Although it might be argued that poultry are simple

creatures whose essentially instinctive behaviour is governed

largely automatically, Fox has argued that "there is sufficient

evidence to support the probability that, under reduced levels of

stimulation and environmental complexity, poultry may suffer from

boredom. This could lead to such "vices" as feather pecking".15

3.17 Cannibalism and feather pecking have been identified as

two of the major vices in poultry. Cannibalistic pecking is

directed toward blood, bleeding tissue (skin or muscle), or

internal organs and occurs in both uncrowded floor pens and

multiple-hen cages. As Craig has noted:

It usually resembles feeding behaviour and when several hens are attracted to any injured bird, the results can be deadly within a day or two. The vent or cloacal area is

particularly vulnerable for hens kept in cages without nest areas as the uterus is everted during egg laying and is an attractive target. However, pecking of other areas can also be

fatal; the tail region is frequently involved and areas where feathers have been lost, so that bare skin is exposed and may be

scratched, causing bleeding to begin ... although heavy feather loss may make birds more susceptible to the vice, it is not a

necessary condition.

3.18 Basically then the welfare of managed animals relates to

the degree to which they can adapt without suffering to the

environments designed by man.

36

Research and Scientific Assessment

3.19 Much of the research done internationally in the field

of animal welfare assessment is quite divergent in purpose and

methodology. To attempt to summarise, let alone critically

analyse and compose the findings of such research, is beyond this Committee's brief and area of expertise.

3.20 Intensive industries and animal welfare researchers in

these industries around the world have influenced each other

considerably. Global changes in approaches to research -

especially the return to an "extensive approach" in some countries - have had an important effect on attitudes towards

animal welfare in intensive industries. This influence has been

paramount in raising national and worldwide awareness of welfare

considerations especially amongst intensive industry and industry

support providers.

3.21 Welfare research in Australia is highly regarded

internationally. Australian researchers not only make an

important written contribution to this field but they have

established a high international reputation as lecturers on

welfare assessment. Their work is used in many countries as an

indicator for evaluating other welfare research. Their

participation in welfare assessment studies overseas is further

proof of Australia's high global standing in animal welfare

research.

3.22 Yet Australian welfare assessment studies are by no

means well advanced. By the standards of agricultural science,

animal welfare research in this country is comparatively new and

relatively peripheral. Its chief assessment criteria include

behaviour, physiological factors, health status and production.

However, as the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) pointed

out in its submission to the Committee, there are certain areas

in which considerable progress has been made through new

approaches, for example, in the pig industry.

37

3.23 According to the AVA, in the past, Australian pig

industry projects have generally sought to establish objective

measurements of "stress" in housed pigs, particularly in systems

of confinement. In addition, research on methodology which might

be used to "improve" the housing conditions of pigs was

undertaken. Community concern has recently led to a concentration

of research effort on objectively quantifying the alleged

stressful effects of confinement housing. Research sponsored by

the industry through the Australian Pig Research Council, in relation to the industry's size, is quite extensive by world

standards.17

3.24 In his evidence to the Committee, Professor A.R. Egan,

from the School of Agriculture and Forestry, at the University of

Melbourne, raised three issues of particular importance regarding

animal welfare research and assessment. He referred to the mass of opinion surrounding what constitutes stressful or damaging

elements in intensive animal production. While conceding that

trauma is recognisable in some circumstances, he emphasised that

in other areas a more objective measure than opinion is required:

... Behavioural research particularly will allow us to determine whether or not practices - or, alternatively, the deprivations that might be perceived to be present in a system -

are truly contradictory to the welfare of the animal; whether or not the animal recognises them as such; and also, to some degree,

whether the animal is being placed in a

position where it does not even have the

opportunity to determine whether or not these things are in its best interest. Those are the philosophical questions that are being addressed in some of the behavioural research being undertaken. ... The assessment of

suffering is one area that is important.18

3.25 The second issue raised by Professor Egan relates to the

necessity (or otherwise) of animals undertaking "particular

innate behaviours". If they are prevented from doing so, a stress

is induced which is difficult to attribute to any factor other

than their absence from their ancestral environment.

38

3.26 Finally, Professor Egan asks, do these issues mean much

in terms of animal welfare assessment? Do animals bred and reared over generations in certain conditions really suffer from a sense

of deprivation about other ways of living denied them?19

3.27 The scientific assessment of animal suffering is a central element in animal welfare research. The Australian and

New Zealand Federation of Animal Societies (ANZFAS) acknowledges

this in its submissions to the committee and refers at length to the conclusions reached by Marian Stamp Dawkins in her book

Animal Suffering.20 Dawkins evaluated several approaches to the

investigation of suffering in animals and found each one on its

own to have shortcomings. She concluded that all must be

considered in conjunction with the others. According to ANZFAS, evidence gathered using several of the approaches described by

Dawkins points to the conclusion that animals suffer in intensive systems.21

3.28 Another factor in animal welfare research concerns the

question of proof - how accurately is it possible to determine and prove if animals are suffering? Dr Hugh Wirth, President of

the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

Australia (RSPCA) told the Committee that, in his opinion, "you

will [never] get to that idyllic state where you apply a simple

test or a series of tests and are able to prove this, that, or the other thing".22 The difficulties involved in defining stress

and evaluating its effect on animals cannot be overstated.

'Objective' measures of the impact of stress should be treated

with caution.

3.29 In this context Professor Peter Singer, Vice-President

of ANZFAS would discount the interests of some parties who are

involved in the production side, either directly as producers or

indirectly, for example, as employees of departments of

agriculture or government and university scientists receiving

research moneys from producers. He believes that most credence

can be given to those with a background in observing and

assessing animal behaviour, rather than to those coming from a

production standpoint.23

39

3.30 It is generally acknowledged that in the intensive

livestock production industry, welfare has in the past been

primarily linked to production, and that this is too narrow a

focus. Much production research is related to industry problems -

as Professor Egan has noted in relation to pigs2^ - and therefore

has, in animal welfare terms, an even more concentrated focus.2^

Professor A.R. Egan has stated that the Australian Pig Research

Council's research projects, like those in many other industries,

reflect too strong on emphasis on biotechnology at the expense of

inquiry into "behaviour and behaviour physiology

relationships".2^

3.31 This important issue was also referred to in evidence by

Dr John Barnett, a Senior Research Scientist with the Victorian

Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs who stated he had:

... more confidence ... in interpreting the

physiological data than I have in some of the behavioural data. Whatever measure we look at in trying to assess welfare all we are looking at is a change. It is a change in physiology or a change in behaviour and with physiology the question we are trying to come to grips with ... is at what level of change is welfare

at risk? So physiologically when we assess stress in animals we say that there is

evidence that these animals are stressed from hormone measurements. But that does not mean their welfare is at risk.22

3.32 Increasingly, broader community concerns about animal

welfare - rather than just those of the production industries -

are being reflected in the activities of the Australian Pig

Research Council which was reconstituted in the mid-1980s to take

greater account of non-industry research requirements (see

Chapter 11 for detail on welfare related projects). However,

though change is occurring, a significant problem remains: as Dr

John Holder, representing the Pig Research Council has pointed

out, it will take some time to broaden the present,

long-established research emphasis on projects related to

nutrition, health and genetics.28

40

3.33 Though such developments are encouraging, the research approach must be widened further. As the Australian Federation

for the Welfare of Animals has argued in relation to "Stress,

Behaviour and Welfare":

Because of the role of behavioural change in animals' adaptation processes, scientists have considered behaviour as a sensitive indicator of animal stress. However, while behavioural change alone may indicate that adaptation mechanisms have been evoked, behavioural

change does not tell us whether the animal is successfully adapting, because behaviour is only part of the adaptive response.

Stress is frequently viewed as the sum of a number of (behavioural and physiological) responses to environmental change and

consequently stress should be viewed as a multi-faceted phenomenon: A phenomenon that requires a multi-disciplinary approach for its

elucidation, involving assessment of both behaviour and physiology.29

3.34 Care must be taken in applying the results of animal

welfare research overseas to Australian conditions. Not only are

industries organised differently but several other factors come

into play, for example, significant differences in climate and

thus in energy costs between Europe and Australia.30

3.35 Central to the whole research debate is the question:

how do we determine what constitutes 'objective' inquiry in this

field? In Professor Peter Singer's opinion the objectivity of

animal welfare researchers can certainly be impaired when their

involvement is funded by production industries themselves.31

Dr John Auty, Honorary Technical Adviser to ANZFAS, told the

Committee even more forcefully that, "the test of ... objectivity [is] whether the scientists are prepared to show you the real

picture, not some put together one ... Let us be objective ...

Let us all be objective".32

3.36 As Dr Auty intimated to the Committee, mixed motives and

insufficient practical knowledge of what is happening "in the

field" undoubtedly have an adverse effect on the findings of

animal welfare researchers.

41

3.37 But the degree of objectivity attainable in any

scientific and social scientific investigation rests very much on

the assumptions made and the models assumed and constructed. An

equally important factor is that rational thinking and a

preoccupation with the scientific approach to solving problems

has come to assume an overly inflated position in our high

technology, post-industrial society. The Western obsession with

rationality, the urge to measure, quantify and predict to an

inordinate degree, has often resulted in an inadequate

understanding of behaviour. Overt behaviour is too often taken to

represent all or practically all, of the criteria needed to

arrive at a social scientific conclusion and basis for action.

3.38 The Committee has noted that the majority of submissions

presented to it appeared to place undue weight in their

assessments of animal welfare on this scientific approach to the

resolution of animal welfare problems. Evidence to the Committee

also seemed to reflect too heavy a reliance on the scientific

method at the expense of more experimental, intuitive approaches

to data gathering and formulating recommendations.

3.39 The question to be considered are wider ethical ones which must be resolved, not only by particular industries or

groups of scientists, but through political decision-making in

the voider society. The Committee endorses the conclusions reached

by Professor A.R. Egan and Dr C.D. Hutson, that the principal

philosophical issues surrounding animal welfare assessment are

those relating to the environment and the animals' reaction to

it; those relating to specific management issues; and those relating to animal/human interactions.33 The Committee believes

that these central issues of "ethics and morality of animal utilisation"34 can only be successfully addressed if animal

welfare assessment and research takes into account ethical

considerations; scientific evidence; and the hitherto largely

neglected aspects of animal feelings and reactions which are not

easily susceptible to quantification and measurement. As I.J.H.

Duncan has argued:

42

Agriculture is the exploitation of plants and animals for man's benefit. The decisions as to whether or not we exploit animals and, if we do, to what extent we exploit them, are, in

the final analysis, ethical decisions. They are therefore decisions that should be made by society at large and not by any one small

sector of it. However, society should not be expected to make these decisions without knowing the facts, and the facts, or

scientific evidence, can be provided by scientific research. Scientists should be expected to produce evidence on such things as the disease risk, the amount of fear, the degree of frustration and the severity of pain or discomfort that will be experienced by animals under particular systems or during specific procedures. These are facts. It is possible to be objective about them.35

3.40 Duncan's main contention is based on the conviction that

"what we want to know ultimately is whether or not animals are

suffering". He continues:

The term "suffering" implies a particular type of mental experience, a subjective feeling ... Subjective feelings are not directly

accessible to scientific investigation but that does not mean that they do not exist. Other human beings are generally accepted to have subjective feelings and mental

experiences although, strictly speaking, we cannot prove it ... Evidence from animal

orientation and navigation studies and from animal communication studies suggests that animals do have mental images, subjective feelings and intentions. Although objectivity is usually assumed to be the first principle

of ethology, nevertheless even its founders have occasionally speculated on subjective feelings.36

Conclusion

3.41 The Committee agrees with Duncan's conclusion that more

emphasis must be given to obtaining knowledge, through

experimentation, of animals' subjective feelings and to

determining whether, or not, they are suffering mentally. The

Committee is convinced that, only through a more integrated

approach to animal welfare assessment and research, can

43

substantial progress be made in this complex field. This would

entail consideration of ethical principles; behavioural science

continuing to provide evidence on aspects such as fear,

frustration, conflict, pain and discomfort; and a fresh approach,

through new forms of experimentation, to arrive at a deeper

knowledge of animals' overall well-being or suffering.

3.42 The Committee recommends that research funding bodies

ensure that all intensive livestock production studies and

specific animal welfare related research methodologies take an

integrated approach to problems addressed so that findings

contain elements of matters relating to housing environment,

animal reaction to it, specific management issues, and

animal/human interaction.

44

ENDNOTES

1. Cited in Evidence, by the Australian Pig Industry Policy

Council, p. S8801.

2. See Endnote No. 4 of Chapter 1 for details of this

Committee and its report.

3. R. Ewbank, 'Animal Welfare' in Management and Welfare of

Farm Animals the UFAW Handbook, Third Edition, Balliere

Tindall, London, 1988, p. 4.

4. Brambell report, op. cit., p. 9.

5. Evidence, Professor A.R. Egan and Dr G.D. Hutson, Animal

Production Section, School of Agriculture and Forestry,

University of Melbourne, p. S8928.

6. I.J.H. Duncan, 'Animal Behaviour and Welfare' in J.A.

Clark (Ed.) Environmental Aspects of Housing for Animal

Production, Butterworths, London, 1981, p. 455.

7. ibid., p. 456.

8. Evidence, p. S8926.

9. Evidence, Australian Federation for the Welfare of

Animals, p. S8935.

10. Evidence, Australian Pig Industry Policy Council, p . 9420.

11. J.L. Barnett and G.D. Hutson, 'Objective Assessment of Welfare in the Pig: Contributions from Physiology and

Behaviour' in Manipulating Pig Production, proceedings of

the Inaugural Conference of the Australian Pig Science

Association (APSA) held in Albury, New South Wales, on

November 23 to 25, 1987, Edited by APSA Committee

Werribee, Victoria, p. 3.

45

12. M.W. Fox, Farm Animals, University Park Press, Baltimore, 1984, p. 192.

13. ibid.

14. ibid., p. 192-193.

15. ibid., p. 193.

16. J.V. Craig, Domestic Animal Behaviour, Prentice Hall,

New Jersey, 1981, p. 210.

17. Evidence, Australian Veterinary Association, p. S9026.

18. Evidence, Professor A.R. Egan, op. cit., p. 9495.

19. ibid., see pp. 9495-9496.

20. Marian Stamp Dawkins, Animal Suffering; The Science of Animal Welfare, Chapman and Hall, London, 1980.

21. Evidence, Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal Societies, p. S8824.

22. Evidence, Dr H.J. Wirth, RSPCA Australia, pp. 9599-9600.

23. Evidence, Professor Peter Singer, Australian and New

Zealand Federation of Animal Societies, pp. 9464-9465 and

9487.

24. Professor A.R. Egan, op. cit., pp. 9494-9495.

25. ibid., p. 9508.

26. ibid., p. 9510.

27. Evidence, Dr John Barnett, Australian Pig Industry Policy

Council, p. 9420.

46

28. Evidence, Dr John Holder, Pig Research Council,

pp. 9614-9615.

29. Evidence, Australian Federation for the Welfare of

Animals, pp. S8935-S8936.

30. Evidence, Dr Linda Murphy, Poultry Researcher,

pp. 9550-9552.

31. Evidence, Professor Peter Singer, Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal Societies, See Endnote 18.

32. Evidence, Dr John Auty, Australian and New Zealand

Federation of Animal Societies, pp. 9471-9472.

33. Evidence, Professor A.R. Egan and Dr C.D. Hutson,

pp. S8925-S8926.

34. ibid., p. S8925.

35. Duncan, op. cit., p. 456.

36. ibid.

47

CHAPTER 4

PEAK NATIONAL BODIES

4.1 There are a great range of issues and opinions

concerning animal welfare in intensive livestock production. The

peak national bodies most concerned and involved have played a

key role in this inquiry. Their submissions and oral evidence

have provided a proper context in which to consider intensive

animal husbandry and its relationship to the welfare of animals.

Each one has contributed a wealth of experience, expertise and

philosophical standpoints.

4.2 While these are discussed throughout the report in the

context of particular issues the following summary provides a

general introduction to these bodies and their perspectives on

this important debate.

4.3 National bodies and key contributions to this inquiry

have been the: •

• Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal

Societies

• Australian Council of Egg Producers

• Australian Federation for the Welfare of Animals

• Australian Pig Industry Policy Council

• Australian Poultry Industries Association

• Australian Veterinary Association

• Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to

Animals (Australia).

49

Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal Societies

4.4 The Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal

Societies (ANZFAS) is a federal umbrella body representing more

than fifty animal welfare, animal rights and conservation

organisations of various types. It was formed in 1980 to promote

the cause of animal welfare in Australia and New Zealand. The

main areas of concern can be summarised as livestock, wildlife,

animal experimentation, companion animals and, animals used in

sport and entertainment.

4.5 ANZFAS considers that intensive systems of animal

husbandry are those most criticised from the point of view of

welfare. Criticism, however, is sometimes dismissed as

ill-informed, if well meaning, anthropomorphism.1

4.6 ANZFAS submits that intensive animal production

demonstrably causes suffering to animals and that to justify the

continuation of this suffering is tantamount to saying that

ethics have no place in our decisions about animal husbandry.2

4.7 Physical and psychological stress associated with close

confinement, high stocking densities, lack of access to outdoors

and certain husbandry practices (mutilation) underlies much of

the concern expressed by ANZFAS. Basically ANZFAS disapproves of

the degree of confinement which frustrates most of the major

activities which make up an animal's natural behaviour.

4.8 ANZFAS recommendations relating to intensive livestock

production are at Appendix 3.

Australian Council of Egg Producers

4.9 The Australian Council of Egg Producers (ACEP) ,

established in 1962, is a federal organisation which represents

Australia's 2,400 commercial egg producers. The organisation's

50

primary aim is to ensure that the interests of egg producers in

Australia are represented to the relevant government and

non-government bodies. The Association's main objectives are:

• to collect relevant statistical and other information

on the egg industry, locally, nationally and

overseas;

• to make submissions to Federal and State Governments

on matters pertaining to the Australian egg industry;

and

• to co-operate with other primary producer

organisations in matters of common interest.3

4.10 All six State egg producer organisations are affiliated

with and provide delegates to the ACEP Council.

4.11 ACEP submits that the current intensive poultry

production system ensures that hens are kept in an environment

which, in an overall sense, has the potential to maximise the

welfare of laying hens.*

4.12 The Association recognises a perfect welfare environment

for hens is not attainable because of a combination of factors

but supports systems of production which approach an ideal

welfare environment.

4.13 The Association considers that the caged layer system

continues to satisfy the overall welfare needs of hens in a

commercial farming environment to a greater extent than other

production systems based on the experience of Australian and

overseas egg producers and current research.

4.14 ACEP also believes there is a close link between animal

welfare and the interests of consumers insofar as egg production

is concerned. This allows the industry to pass on the economic

benefits of such systems to consumers.

51

4.15 However, ACEP recognises that the rights of consumers

are important insofar as egg production systems are concerned and

therefore commercial egg producers are prepared to satisfy

particular niche markets where groups of consumers have

preferences for eggs produced from other than cage systems.

Producers in all systems will seek to maximise the welfare of

hens within constraints associated with particular production

systems.5

4.16 ACEP supports and funds research into the welfare

aspects of commercial egg production systems in Australia and

believes that the current research effort will ensure that the

welfare needs of laying hens are addressed.

Australian Federation for the Welfare of Animals Inc.

4.17 The Australian Federation for the Welfare of Animals

(AFWA) is an animal dependent body, formed in May 1987, with the

Objective of restoring sanity and balance to the animal welfare

debate'. Its philosophy is that it is up to an informed society

to make decisions about the acceptability of various forms of

human dependence on animals such as in the production of animals

for food or scientific research for human health. It believes

that it is legitimate for humans to use animals provided this is

done in a humane caring way according to appropriate codes of

practice that emphasise animal welfare.®

4.18 AFWA's aim is to promote humane treatment of animals

through the promotion of codes of practice, education and peer

pressure.7

4.19 The membership of AFWA reflects the scope of animal

based industries in Australia. It includes primary producer

groups, research scientists, educationists, commercial support

groups, processors and retailers, recreation groups, custodians,

and professional associations. Included in the latter is the

Australian Veterinary Association. Membership details are at

Appendix 4.

52

4.20 AFWA's concerns are based on the fact that most

Australians live in cities and rarely experience modern farming

systems. This lack of knowledge often results in negative

reactions to animal production systems.®

4.21 AFWA believes there are three ways to approach welfare

issues: the political, the philosophical and the objective or

scientific aspects. It believes the political aspects are often

based on biased community perceptions and the philosophical aspects conflicting.® AFWA believes that objective scientific

criteria are important for the assessment of the welfare of

intensively housed stock-*·® and that such data should be presented

to the community so that an informed opinion can be reached.11

Australian Pig Industry Policy Council

4.22 The Australian Pig Industry Policy Council established

under the provisions of Part III, Section 53 of the Pig Industry

Act No. 157 of 1986 forms part of the statutory arrangements for the Australian pig industry. The objective of the Council is to

provide a forum for the discussion of matters affecting the

industry, and in which industry policy can be established.12

4.23 There are six constituent members of the Australian Pig

Industry Policy Council (APIPC). Member organisations of the

APIPC are:

Australian Pork Producers' Federation

Pig Research Council

Australian Pork Corporation

National Smallgoods Council

Stockfeed Manufacturers' Association

National Meat Processors' Association.

53

4.24 Within the Australian Pork Producers' Federation (APPF),

there are six constituent member organisations which represent

pig farmers in individual States and one, the special interests

of intensive pork producers. Member organisations of the APPF

are:

• Intensive Pig Producers of Australia

• Victorian Farmers' Federation (VFF Pig Commodity

Council)

• NSW Farmers' Association (NSW Pig Producers' Council) • Queensland Pork Producers' Organisation

• Tasmanian Farmers' and Graziers' Association (State Pork and Bacon Industry Division)

• United Farmers and Stockowners of South Australia

(Commercial Pig Section)

• West Australian Pig Producers' Association.

4.25 Members of the Pig Research Council and the Australian

Pork Corporation are appointed by the Minister for Primary

Industries and Energy on the recommendation of ministerially

appointed selection committees. The National Smallgoods Council,

the Stockfeed Manufacturers' Association and the National Meat

Processors' Association are the relevant national bodies

representing the interests of the meat processing and stockfeed

industries throughout Australia.13

4.26 The Australian Pig Industry Policy Council submits that

it, in principle and practice, is committed to safeguarding and

actively promoting the welfare of pigs in.Australia. The Council

believes in the need to actively promote animal welfare as a

means of ensuring high levels of livestock productivity and the

profitability of the industry. The Committee believes that animal

welfare and sound piggery management are inexorably linked.

4.27 It is actively involved in the development and promotion

of education, research and awareness raising of welfare issues

within and outside the industry and welcomes objective and

rational debate on the subject.

54

4.28 The Council recognises community concerns about animal

welfare but is concerned about the influence of certain elements

of the 'emotionally based' arguments might have on what should be

an objective and rational debate.16

Australian Poultry Industries Association

4.29 The Australian Poultry Industries Association (APIA) is

a national industry organisation whose member companies produce

between 80-85 per cent of all commercial chicken meat processed

in Australia.^

4.30 Membership of the APIA is voluntary and each company engaged in the industry is eligible for membership. The

objectives for which the Association was established are, among other things, to promote and protect the interests of the chicken

meat industry, to collect and circulate to members technical,

statistical and other information, and to promote improvements

and uniformity in the law, policies and regulations.18

4.31 Members of the Association were actively involved in the preparation of the first Code of Practice for the Welfare of the

Domestic Fowl. Members have been involved in revisions of the

Code from time to time and have also been involved in and

supported research into aspects of poultry welfare.^

4.32 The Association and its members are acutely aware of the

interaction of bird welfare and efficient chicken meat production

and are therefore totally committed to poultry welfare.20

Australian Veterinary Association

4.33 The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) is the peak

body of the veterinary profession in Australia. Its purpose is to

serve the needs of the profession and to promote animal health,

55

productivity and welfare. The Association has an Animal Welfare

Standing Committee and Special Interest Groups to advise it on

matters relating to animal welfare. Special Interest Groups in

this context are the Australian Veterinary Poultry Association and the Australian Association of Pig Veterinarians.

4.34 Veterinarians are closely involved with intensive

livestock industries, in regulatory matters related to control of

disease outbreaks and in matters of production, disease prevention and treatment.21

4.35 The AVA considers that animal welfare and human needs must be considered at the same time, and policies on each must be

complementary, not detrimental, to the other. It believes that

this balanced approach is practical and achievable.22 It

acknowledges problems in the present systems but argues that for

the most part intensive methods equal good animal husbandry and

such environments are superior to the extremes of extensive

systems.

4.36 It also considers that to properly address the issues of

animal welfare it is necessary to reliably assess and precisely

define the actual and specific welfare needs of each type and group of animals.

4.37 AVA believes:

It is inevitable that trends in one direction will sometimes be perceived to conflict with progress in another. These complex issues involve and evoke emotions which can confuse a balanced assessment. Extremists, who wilfully remain ignorant and intolerant of the opinions and needs of others, tend to dominate debate and the real issues become lost in the

process. Fortunately, the attitudes of most people in the community are more moderate.2^

4.38 AVA summaries and general recommendations on pig and

poultry production are at Appendix 5.

56

Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

(Australia)

4.39 The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to

Animals in Australia was established in 1984 as a national

co-ordinating body of state and territory RSPCA's.

4.40 RSPCA Australia believes that no animal should be used

for the production of food or fibre, either by farming practice,

transportation, or method of slaughter which in any way may cause

suffering, injury or distress.24

4.41 It argues that the acceptability of intensive systems

will be determined from the animal welfare viewpoint by three

basic criteria.

1. Is it in the animal's best interest (weather,

predators, health)?

2. Do the animals have sufficient freedom to follow

normal behavioural and physiological patterns?

3. Is it necessary in this climate for animals not susceptible to problems with predators and health

associated with extensive farming?

4.42 Statements of RSPCA Australia's position on intensive

animal systems are at Appendix 6.

57

ENDNOTES

1. Evidence, Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal Societies, p . S8822.

2. ibid.

3. Australian Council of Egg Producers, Submission, dated March 1984, pp . 2-4.

4. Australian Council of Egg Producers, letter dated 1 May-

1990.

5. ibid.

6. Introductory address by Dr George Alexander, President,

Australian Federation for the Welfare of Animals, at

launch of Association, 8 May 1987.

7. Evidence, Australian Federation for the Welfare of Animals, p. S8931.

8. ibid.

9. ibid., p. S8932.

10. ibid., p. S8943. ·

11. ibid., p. S8932.

12. Australian Pig Industry Policy Council, Annual Report,

1988-89, p. 2.

13. Evidence, Australian Pig Industry Policy Council,

p. S8790.

14. ibid., p. S8788.

58

15. ibid. , P- S8788-9

16. ibid. , P· S8789 .

17. Australian Poultry Industries Association, letter dated

5 June 1990.

18. Australian Poultry Industries Association Constitution and

Rules.

19. Australian Poultry Industries Association, letter dated

5 June 1990.

o CN ibid.

21. Evidence, Australian Veterinary Association, p. S9020.

22. ibid., p . S8766 .

23. ibid., p . S8768.

24. Evidence, Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to

Animals Australia, p. S9046.

25. ibid., p. S9100.

59

PART TWO

THE DOMESTIC FOWL

CHAPTER 5

CAGE HOUSING OF LAYERS

5.1 The majority of layers in Australia are housed under a

cage-layer system. More than 90 per cent of commercial laying

hens in Australia are housed in this way. Under this system, several hens are usually housed together in a series of

single-tiered cages. The cages are accommodated in special sheds featuring temperature controls such as ventilation units and fans

and cooling or sprinkler systems. Hens have access to feed and

water in their cages and are routinely inspected for general

health and physical injury.1

5.2 The other main commercial egg production method in

Australia is the 'free range' system. This system allows birds to move freely inside and outside the housing facility that is

provided, although they are generally shedded at night to protect

against predators. A discussion of this system and other

alternative housing systems is given in Chapter 6.

5.3 The Committee received widely divergent views on the

appropriateness of the current cage housing system used in Australia. Some groups, such as RSPCA (Australia) and ANZFAS were

opposed to the keeping of poultry in cages and have argued that

the practice should be phased out.2 Other witnesses, however,

such as ACEP, AFWA and NSW Department of Agriculture and

Fisheries argued that the present cage system in Australia

provided numerous welfare benefits.3 Still other groups, such as

the AVA, took a more neutral stance arguing that cages offer both

advantages and disadvantages in terms of welfare.4

63

5.4 The Committee, on the basis of its inspections of

several cage systems in a number of States was impressed by the

modern facilities and standards of hygiene in these

establishments. The Committee was able to see that the hens

housed in these systems had ready access to the basic

requirements of food and water. The birds also appeared to be in

a good state of physical health. The sheds were clean, there were

few flies and other insects and, the temperature control, and other environmental conditions appeared adequate.

5.5 The proponents of the cage housing system in Australia

provided evidence to the Committee that the system offered

numerous welfare benefits. The ACEP argued that the hens were

protected from exposure to extremes of temperature and inclement

weather, as well as from natural predators, such as hawks, foxes,

feral dogs and cats. It was also argued that the hens are under

close supervision and are routinely and easily inspected,

allowing for immediate treatment or separation in the case of illness or physical injury.5

5.6 NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries argued in

its submission that despite the relatively high stocking

densities the incidence of disease was low among caged layers.

This was due in part to the fact that the birds were not in

contact with their faeces. The incidence of internal and external

parasites was also lower than with hens housed on the ground.6

5.7 Regarding the incidence of external parasites in caged

layers as compared with other systems, Mr Roth, of NSW Department

of Agriculture and Fisheries, told the Committee: I

I do not have any actual precise statistics that I could refer to, but I could guarantee that internal parasites are not a problem in caged birds. You do very occasionally get round worms and very occasionally you get tape worms, but they certainly are not a problem.

... But in the free-range birds the internal parasites can be a problem and probably would necessitate anthelmintics to get rid of them, and so they would be much more of a problem.

64

The external parasites would be more of a problem also in the free-range birds because again you have that earth-bird contact and a

number of parasites, such as stickfast fleas, have a lava stage in the ground which just comes onto the birds and it is very very

difficult to break it.7

5.8 The Committee questioned several witnesses on the use of antibiotics to control disease in cage laying flocks. Mr Holland,

of the Australian Council of Egg Producers, told the Committee

that:

I cannot remember the last time when I would have used antibiotics on my farm. It is

certainly not a regular additive to feed. It would only be used in an outbreak of disease or some such thing, which is pretty rare in

today's commercial flocks. I would suggest that there are far more antibiotics used in direct human consumption for all sorts of complaints than there is in the laying hen

industry.®

5.9 Dr Kite, of the NSW Farmers Association, also told the

Committee that antibiotics are only 'infrequently used'. She

added:

In fact, the necessity for using medication of any sort is being reduced all the time

because, I believe, the industry is basically becoming more efficient. The sorts of

facilities and equipment that people are using are better. As we have been saying all along, in a cage system there is less opportunity for birds to pick up disease organisms, so there

is less disease about generally and the whole disease status of the Australian flock would be improving all the time. And that means less requirement for medication of any sort.9

5.10 ACEP also told the Committee that the hens are subjected

to minimal levels of social stress associated with fighting,

pecking and bullying in cages. As hens in cages only have a limited number of flockmates within their immediate social

hierarchy, they have consequently no difficulty in recognising

their flockmates and remembering their social position in

65

relation to each other. A condition of social inertia results and

there is no need for members to continually re-establish or

recontest their social position once it has been initially

established. Social stress is therefore kept to a minimum under

these conditions. Hens kept in alternative systems where hens

come into contact with many more flockmates have a far more

complex social order (peck order) leading to frequent conflicts.

Outbreaks of fighting, feather pecking and bullying are therefore

far more common than in a cage system.*0

5.11 The more stable social environment that hens in cages

experience also means that they are subjected to less risk of

physical injury being inflicted by flockmates. This, combined

with a reduced risk of physical injury due to mechanical means,

significantly reduces the opportunity for outbreaks of

cannibalism, vent pecking and feather pecking. Cannibalism is a

major problem in laying flocks housed in large groups on the

floor or at range. In addition, the hens are protected from the

risk of suffocation and physical injury resulting from mass

panicking which can occur when large groups of birds are housed

together, for example, on the floor or at range.11

5.12 It was also pointed out to the Committee that such

systems have many commercial advantages over alternative systems.

NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries noted that laying

cages are more cost effective to build and operate than other

housing systems. The system is also labour efficient - one

operator can effectively operate an automatic laying cage system

with up to 20,000 laying hens (excluding egg packing). The

working environment of a cage system also provides advantages for

farm operators especially in respect to the inspection and

handling of birds. For the farm operator there is also protection

from the elements, freedom from obstructions, and from direct

contact with the birds or their droppings.^ The environmental

conditions with hens housed at the optimal temperature (20° -

28°), means that hens eat less food and produce eggs that are

5-10 cents per dozen cheaper than is the case where the

ventilation and temperature is unregulated.

66

5.13 These systems also provide consumers with eggs of high

quality and of known age and freshness. NSW Department of

Agriculture and Fisheries has commented that the quality of eggs

produced by caged layers is at least equal to the achieved in

other systems, but with less labour input. The eggs cool more

quickly on the egg trays and fewer eggs are soiled and require

washing. Egg handling is also reduced by automatic egg collection

and on-farm packing systems.13 The only opportunities for

spoilage came from incorrect storage and marketing.

5.14 Dr Kite also told the Committee that there was less risk

of bacterial contamination of eggs from caged systems than other

systems. She also suggested there, was a greater risk of salmonella getting into non-caged produced eggs.14 Mr Miller, of

the Victorian Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, told

the Committee that only rarely was there a problem with chemical residues in caged eggs. He noted:

Very rarely there have been occasions where eggs have been detected above the maximum residue limit, but these cases have normally been due to operator error of a chemical

contractor or something of that nature. They happen seldomly. If you try to compare what happens in an extensive system versus an intensive system in terms of residues; I guess

it is more likely in keeping poultry in a

range situation or on the floor that they are going to be prone to parasitism from external and internal parasites and some protozoan organisms as well.15

5.15 The question of yolk colouring as an indication of egg

quality was also raised by the Committee. The Committee was told

that the colour of the yolk does not reflect the quality of the

egg. Fowls in free-range systems eating green grass and other

natural plant food with pigmentation qualities produce eggs with

dark yolks, while fowls fed on high protein grain mixes produce

eggs with light yolks. Farmers provide food additives to darken

yolk colouring in intensively produced eggs in response to

consumer preference for eggs with dark yellow yolks. However, the

colouring agents are natural food substances and not

residual-producing chemicals . -*-6

67

5.16 While the Committee received numerous arguments in

favour of the current cage system, many welfare groups and

individuals presented evidence to the Committee opposing the

current system of intensive egg production.

5.17 ANZFAS in its submission to the Committee argued that

the cage system did not provide for either the physical

well-being of hens nor for their behavioural needs. The

Federation argued that caged birds suffer a range of physical injuries including bone weakness through lack of exercise,

injuries to the foot through constant contact with the wire mesh

cage, and feather and skin damage due to pecking by other birds

as well as abrasions and skin wounds caused by overcrowding. ^

ANZFAS also argued that hens suffer behavioural deprivation in

the cage environment. They asserted that caged hens are

frustrated by their inability to engage in natural activities,

such as laying their eggs in a nest, wing flapping, roosting off

the ground, scratching and pecking the ground, and dustbathing.

To compensate, birds often engage in displacement behaviour, in

particular aggression and pacing, which in turn, often causes

physical injury.1®

5.18 Dr Wirth of RSPCA (Australia) also suggested to the

Committee that the cage system did not ensure the welfare of

fowls because the cage environment failed to meet several

requirements. He suggested that confined animals, including

fowls, needed to:

... perform some natural movement ... they

should be able to stretch, to lie down, to turn around, to walk, and to flap wings. Secondly, there is a need to allow the

formation of social groups, preferably by keeping together litter mates or those animals reared together with reference to segregation of breeds, sexes, size and temperament.1®

5.19 Both the AVA and Dr Murphy, a poultry researcher, among

others, argued that the present intensive system provides both

welfare advantages and disadvantages. The AVA in evidence to the

Committee suggested that there is no one ideal system. The

68

Association argued that cage systems have certain welfare

advantages, including a cleaner environment for the birds, ready

access to food and water and easier bird inspection and catching.

However, they noted that the principal disadvantage of cages are

that they 'limit bird movement and the expression of some normal

behavioural activities such as nesting, perching and

dust-bathing'.20

5.20 Dr Murphy also emphasised that all housing systems had

both good and bad welfare aspects. She argued that the welfare of an animal at any point in time comprised many components - both

physical aspects (such as hunger, thirst, disease, injury,

comfort and space, lack of noise, and light) and mental

components, (such as fear, frustration, boredom, stress and deprivation). To assess the overall welfare status of an animal,

or of a housing system, each one of these aspects needed to be

measured and assessed.21

5.21 Dr Murphy further argued that many of the alleged

negative welfare aspects of conventional cages involved the fact

that cages restricted or prevented birds from performing certain

behaviour patterns, often referred to as 'natural' behaviour. The

question of when, why and if animals needed to behave in certain

ways and what the consequences were if they could not was, she

suggested, extremely complex. Dr Murphy also suggested that

domestication and selection had changed behavioural traits, as

well as physical and production traits - thus each behaviour

needed to be examined separately. From a consideration of the

many and varied individual aspects which combined to comprise an

animal's overall welfare, Dr Murphy argued that it was obvious

that no husbandry system had yet been devised which was positive

in all respects - this is why housing systems could not be

referred to as either good or bad but as comprising both good and

bad welfare aspects.

5.22 Several specific aspects relating to the cage housing

system were commented on during the inquiry. These included the adequacy of stocking densities, the extent of overstocking, and

the need for improved cage design.

69

Stocking Densities

5.23 The adequacy of current stocking densities or stocking

rates was a major concern during this inquiry. The Model Code of

Practice for the Welfare of the Domestic Fowl lays down maximum

recommended stocking densities for fowls in different systems of

housing under good management conditions.22 (The Code is

reproduced at Appendix 7 of this report).

5.24 The stocking densities for domestic fowls are shown in

Table 5.1. As the table indicates the figures are expressed in

terms of kilograms of liveweight per square metre of floor space.

For caged layers the maximum recommended stocking rate in

multi-bird cages, with three or more birds, is 52 kilograms per

square metre. For cages with two fowls per cage it is 40

kilograms per square metre and for single fowl cages it is 26

kilograms per square metre. Single bird cages provide more space

per bird than multi-bird cages. NSW Department of Agriculture and

Fisheries also estimated the stocking densities for birds of

different bodyweight. For example, in multi-bird cages, with three or more birds per cage for light, average and heavy birds

the stocking density is approximately 370, 400 and 470 square centimetres per bird, respectively.23 The stocking rate will also

vary according to cage size and according to the average

bodyweight of the particular strain of bird.

5.25 Some contributors to the inquiry, especially industry representatives, suggested that the present stocking densities

were adequate. Mr Holland of the ACEP suggested that 'research

that has been done around the world would indicate that the size of the cage that we are using is very close to the optimum' from

both a welfare and production point of view.24

70

Table 5.1: Maximum Recommended Stocking Densities for Domestic Fowls in Cages

Density (live- weight per unit of floor area) Qualifications

Rearing of fowls 40

for laying or breeding kg/m2 Relates to cage floor

area.

Laying or breeding 52

fowls (includes cockerels) 3 or more fowls per cage

kg/m2 Density relates to cage floor area.

2 fowls per cage 40 kg/m2 Irrespective of the

number of birds per

Single fowl cages 26 kg/m2 cage, each bird should

have a minimum trough space of 10 cm.

SOURCE: Australian Bureau of Animal Health, Sub-Committee on Animal Welfare, Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: No. 2 - The Domestic Fowl, Canberra, 1983, Appendix 1.

5.26 However, witnesses including representatives of ANZFAS,

Dr Murphy, Dr Wirth of RSPCA Australia and others argued that the current stocking densities were unacceptably high.25 ANZFAS

argued that while cages should be banned entirely over a

five-year period, that in the interim period, the stocking

density for hens should not exceed three birds per square metre.26

5.27 It was argued that current stocking densities do not

provide sufficient space for hens to lie down, turn around and

engage in grooming behaviour, such as preening, head scratching, body-wing shaking and feather ruffling.27 An assessment of space

requirements is closely bound up with the concept of behavioural

need, which remains a controversial subject. Some ethologists

argue that the mere presence of a behaviour pattern in an

animal's repertoire is sufficient evidence that the opportunity

71

and space to perform the behaviour must be provided. Others hold

that behavioural patterns are such that animals can

satisfactorily adapt even to an environment as barren and

confining as a cage. These questions are complex, continue to be

the subject of intense debate and have yet to be resolved.28

Current Research into Space Requirements

5.28 The Committee examined the results of several major

studies in Europe that are looking into the space requirements

for birds in cages. Most of these studies have concluded that

greater space allowances are necessary for the physical

well-being of fowls.

5.29 A study by Zayan and Doyen in Belgium reported on the

results of experiments over a nine-month period to test the

effects of cage density on behavioural patterns in two strains of

laying hens.29 The study concluded that it was preferable to

house birds in pairs rather than in larger groups. The study also

recommended minimum floor space allowances for birds in pairs,

based on observed behavioural patterns over a nine-month period.

For light hybrid birds, such as White Leghorns, they recommend a

minimum space requirement of 600 to 680 square centimetres per bird, and twice that for the pair. They argued that medium

hybrids should be allowed between 760 and 800 square centimetres

per bird in a pair, and if in cages of three or four birds, each

bird required additional space.

5.30 A second group that is looking at space requirements is

Dawkins and others in the United Kingdom.30 This group has

measured the amount of space hens use when performing common

behaviour patterns such as standing still, turning around,

stretching or flapping their wings. In the studies they placed a

video camera above the hens and then analysed, by computer, the

area the birds occupied.

72

5.31 In one study hens weighing 2.1 kilograms, on average

were used. The study found that the hens occupied between 428 and

592 square centimetres when standing. They required between 978 and 1626 square centimetres to turn around, while flapping their

wings occupied between 1085 and 2060 square centimetres. Even to

preen their feathers the birds required more than 800 square

centimetres.

5.32 While it is sometimes argued that hens can 'share each

other's space' by protruding into the space allowance of other

birds, because some birds occupy more than 450 square centimetres

when they are merely standing still, there is little additional

space to share. A bird may still be able to flap its wings by

moving them above the heads and bodies of other hens in its cage, but contact with other birds and the sides of the cage is almost

inevitable.

5.33 Another study by Dawkins and Hardie used Ross Brown hens for a similar experiment.31 The results of the study indicated

that the hens used between 540 and 1006 cm2 when turning, 653 to

1118 cm2 when using flapping, 676 to 1604 cm2 when feather ruffling, 814 to 1270 cm2 when preening and 540 to 1005 cm2 when

ground scratching.

5.34 It is clear from these studies that the current European

Commission Directive on space allowance for laying hens that

requires that each bird be given a minimum space of 450 square centimetres does not allow sufficient opportunity for hens to

perform a range of behaviour patterns such as preening, turning

around or wing flapping.

5.35 The French group under Lagadic has conducted experiments

in which birds are placed in cages which have movable walls which the hens can manipulate by pecking at a set of keys, the effect

of which is to either increase or decrease the area of the cage.32 χη the latest experiment eight groups of birds have been

tested; two groups of birds have consistently increased their

cage size to the maximum possible; two groups of birds have

73

consistently reduced their cage size to the minimum possible and

four groups have varied their cage size in a random fashion. The

results indicate that there may be considerable individual

differences amongst hens regarding their preference for cage

size. However, several other studies have consistently shown that

battery-kept hens have shown a preference for larger rather than small cages.33

5.36 Hughes, in summarising the current research into the

space requirements of caged layers, has argued that:

... there is now convincing evidence available from a number of different sources that the amount of space available in a typical battery cage is too small. There is production

response when hens are given more space, hens carrying out a limited range of basic

activities cover an area greater than that which they are commonly offered, some of the behaviour patterns which they perform in more spacious environments require much more space then the battery cage can provide, and they show a preference for spaces much larger than those they are presently offered. Thus the evidence, fragmentary though it is, all points in the same direction. There may be economic arguments why no more space can be provided at present, but there is unquestionably a strong case for offering more space on welfare

grounds. Although however, one may safely conclude that more space is desirable, the evidence is such that, at present, no

particular figure can be confidently

recommended as adequate.34

Developments in Europe

5.37 An EEC regulation has recently laid down a uniform

minimum cage size area for laying hens in battery cages.35

Legislation became operative in several EEC countries on 1

January 1988 to implement the requirements of the 1986 EEC

Directive for the protection of laying hens in battery cages.

Member states of the Community are required to ensure that from 1

January 1988 for new or reconstructed cages, and from 1 January

1995 for all others, each cage shall provide a minimum cage floor

area of 450 cm^ per bird.

74

5.38 Some countries have, however, gone further and imposed additional regulations unilaterally. In the United Kingdom,

higher minimum cage floor space allowances are required where

there are less than four birds kept in a cage - 550 cm2 per bird is required where there are three birds per cage, 750 cm2 per

bird for two birds per cage and 1000 cm2 for cages containing one

bird. In West Germany from 1 July 1989 each hen must have

unrestricted use of at least 450 cm2 of cage floor. If the

average weight of the hens in the cage is more than two

kilograms, each hen must have unrestricted use of at least

550 cm2 . In Denmark birds of up to three kilograms must have a minimum cage area of 600 cm2 per bird (and 900 cm2 for birds over

three kilograms). Additionally, where only one bird is housed in

a cage, the minimum cage area required is 1000 cm2 .

5.39 The United Kingdom, Danish and West German Governments have indicated that a more appropriate European standard for the

minimum space allowance in battery cages should be about 600 cm2

per bird, and these countries will be seeking improvements in

this area when the review of the Directive takes place in 1993.36

5.40 The Farm Animal Welfare Council in the United Kingdom,

an independent body set up to advise the Minister of Agriculture,

has recently criticised the European standard of 450 square

centimetres as inadequate for the welfare of hens. The Council

suggested that 600 square centimetres should be adopted as the

minimum in Europe and that this minimum still needed to be increased progressively.37 in this context, it should be noted

that in the United Kingdom, the Ministry of Agriculture,

Fisheries and Food recommended that each hen have 600 cm2 of

space prior to 1987, when it was reduced to 450 cm2, to bring the

United Kingdom into line with other EEC countries.

75

Conclusion

5.41 On the basis of evidence received during the inquiry,

current research, overseas trends and the Committee's

inspections, the Committee believes that caged layers should have

more space than currently prescribed under the Code of Practice.

The Committee therefore recommends that as an initial step the

maximum stocking density for cages with three or more birds be

reduced from 52 kilograms per square metre to 46 kilograms per

square metre.

5.42 The Committee favours a shift away from the current

practice of calculating floor space per hen by kilogram of

live-weight per unit of floor area and recommends that in future,

the space allowance for hens be expressed in terms of square

centimetres of floor area per bird.

5.43 To give effect to the Committee's objective of

addressing the need for further reductions in stocking densities

for hens the Committee recommends the following reforms:

(a) that of:

each cage have a minimum area for each bird

1000 square centimetres where one hen is kept in a

cage;

750 square centimetres where two hens are kept in

a cage;

600 square centimetres where three or more hens

are kept in a cage; and

(b) that an early date of effect be introduced for new cages with a phasing-in period to apply for

existing systems.

76

5.44 The Committee also believes that the stocking densities

should be regularly reviewed to take account of advances in the

understanding of animal physiology and behaviour, changes in

husbandry systems and their relationship to the welfare of

poultry. The Committee therefore recommends that the stocking

densities for laying hens be regularly reviewed by the

Sub-Committee on Animal Welfare of the Australian Health Committee within the Australian Agricultural Council.

Overstocking

5.45 The Committee during its inspections of several poultry

establishments during the inquiry did not see evidence of overstocking. It did, however, receive some evidence of

overstocking from several witnesses. As noted by the AVA,

overstocking is detrimental to welfare. It can result in some birds being deprived of adequate food and water,

underventilgition, increased spread of infectious diseases, and

increased social stress within the flock. Flock performance (such

as egg production, and growth rate), may also be reduced if the optimal stocking rate for a facility is exceeded.38

5.46 Professor Singer cited an example of a poultry farm in

Victoria where the number of birds per cage far exceeded the

stocking rate recommended in the Code of Practice. In the example

cited, Professor Singer argued that:

... [the] cage ... measured 45 centimetres by 45 centimetres. According to the code of practice in Victoria, this cage should have no more than four birds in it, because the code

requires 10 centimetres of front feeder space per bird. So with a 45-centimetre front you can only have four birds ... You can see that

this cage has seven birds in it.39

77

5.47 Mr Poole of NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries,

in evidence to the Committee, also stated that there was some

evidence that the stocking rate was exceeded in New South Wales.

He mentioned the instance of one producer who exceeded the

provisions of the Code because he used a particular type of cage system and a heavy strain of bird.40

5.48 In contrast, NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

in its submission claimed that there was little evidence that the

recommended stocking rates were exceeded in practice but conceded

that no regular inspections were undertaken to ensure that this

was so. 41- or Murphy also indicated that, on the basis of her

experience of the industry, there was little evidence of

overstocking in Queensland.42

5.49 The AVA pointed out to the Committee that while it is

regrettable, overstocking can sometimes be economically

advantageous. By increasing the number of birds housed in a

facility, the capital, labour and other production costs per bird

can be reduced, and these savings may offset lower flock

performance and result in a greater capital return from the

facility. This undesirable practice results, for example, in

three layers being placed in a cage that was only designed to accomodate two.43

5.50 The Committee believes that stocking densities should

be strictly adhered to and enforced. The Committee therefore

recommends that more regular inspections of commercial

establishments be undertaken by the appropriate authorities to

monitor husbandry practices generally and to ensure that stocking

densities do not exceed those specified in the Code of Practice for the domestic fowl.

78

Cage Design

5.51 Many organisations and individuals, including Mr Macindoe, of NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, and Dr

Linda Murphy, a poultry researcher, who gave evidence to the

Committee, commented on the need for improvements in cage design.44

5.52 Cages designed, especially prior to the mid 1970s, often

incorporated features that had undesirable welfare consequences.

For instance, the design features often led to accidental

trapping of hens involving the hens' comb, wing or toe. In

addition, the cage design often reduced the space available for

the hens, especially in the cage fronts at the feed trough.45

5.53 A study by Professor Tauson of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences conducted over the period 1974-1984 found that the parts of the hens' body most frequently trapped were the

head or neck (29 per cent), comb joint/jaw bones and the

body/wings (28 per cent). Some 15 per cent of the trapped hens

had their toes or claws trapped, 13 per cent their hocks and 16

per cent other parts of the body.46 The study also found that 40

per cent of accidents in cages occurred between the manure

deflector/egg guard and the cage floor/partition and 15 per cent

occurred at the front of the cage. The rest occurred between the

partition and the floor, in the wire mesh floor itself and in the

feeder.

5.54 Tauson also found that in 1974, when his study first

began, the mortality rate caused by accidental trapping due to

poor cage design was more than 20 per cent of the total mortality

rate. However in 1984, with improvements in cage design the

frequency of accidental mortality did not exceed 0.1 - 0.2 per

cent of hens housed, that is, about one per cent of total

mortality.47

79

5.55 Most cages in Australia are now imported from Europe and

cost approximately $8.00 per bird capacity to buy, assemble and

instal, complete with automatic feeding, drinking and egg

collection belts.48 There is only one cage manufacturer in

Australia at present.*9 The life of a cage system is of the order

of 20 to 25 years.

5.56 In recent years the emphasis of research in Europe and

the United Kingdom has been towards improving the design and

welfare aspects of the cage system. Some significant improvements

to cage design have resulted from this work. Recently cage

manufacturers in Europe have become aware of the results of

studies on behaviour patterns and biological performance of birds

in a variety of modified and alternative cages. This information

is increasingly influencing the design and layout of laying cages

and equipment. Several manufacturers have taken the opportunity

to redesign and improve their laying cages incorporating welfare

benefits where possible. Such benefits include:

• the use of solid cage partitions to prevent excessive

feather loss;

• horizontal bar gates which maintain better frontal

feathering and provide easier access for several

birds to the feeder at the same time;

• the installation of movable deflectors positioned at

an increasing distance into the cage between the

manure deflector short side and the side partition;

• improved methods of joining side and rear partitions

with cage floors, so that gaps between them do not

develop allowing birds' toes, legs, wattles, combs or

heads to be trapped; trapping points causing injury

or discomfort are now generally avoided in laying

cages;

80

• some drinker lines have been repositioned and

drinkers protected so as to give birds better access

whilst limiting spillage and waste;

• cage floor slopes have been reduced by several

manufacturers which aim to reduce shell damage in the collecting area;

• the use of smaller wire floor mesh sizes; and

• inspection techniques have been developed for birds in the upper tiers of multi-tiered cage blocks; such

as steps on the lower tiers, moving gantries or

mobile inspection steps or trolleys.

5.57 The Committee, during discussions with Professor Tauson

questioned him regarding the possible benefits of these improved

cage design features for bird welfare. He told the Committee that plumage condition was substantially improved in these new cages.

He noted that feather loss was reduced by 15 per cent in cages

using solid partitions as compared to wire partitions and feed

consumption was also reduced for hens with good plumage.51

5.58 Tauson also commented on the improvement in foot

condition where there was a smoother galvanising of the cage

floor, a reduced floor slope and cages that used smaller wire

mesh floor sizes.

5.59 The Committee, however, questioned Professor Tauson as

to whether there was a welfare concern with cages that

incorporated solid partitions, in that they may restrict the

hens' visual contact with other birds. Professor Tauson argued

that he did not believe this was a problem. He also pointed to

the fact some cages now had semi-rear partitions - the birds were

found to be calmer in these cages and also had better plumage condition.52 Tauson noted that there were two reasons for the

81

significant decrease in feather loss in cages with solid

partitions. The first was that there was less feather pecking

against the wings, head and tail and secondly, there was less

abrasion.

5.60 Professor Tauson also told the Committee of several new

cage design modifications that are taking place to enhance the birds' well-being.53 These innovations have not been widely

adopted in the design of cages at this stage. Following research

by Professor Tauson perches and abrasive strips have been

installed in conventional 4-bird cages on an experimental basis

in an effort to improve foot and claw conditions.

5.61 Self-adhesive strips of abrasive tape have been placed

onto the manure deflector\egg guard installed in cages to blunt

the birds' claws. Excessively long claws may injure other birds and may get caught in various parts of the cage. Hens on cage

floors are unable to successfully wear-down their claws as is

done by birds kept on litter or on free-range.

5.62 Professor Tauson indicated that the installation of the

abrasive strips had led to a marked reduction in the growth of the claws. The tape can be installed in existing cages and at

relatively low cost. New cages sold in Sweden now have the

abrasive tape attached, but they are not widely used elsewhere in

Europe.

5.63 Another innovation has been the installation of perches

in conventional cages housing up to five hens. Professor Tauson

argued that they are used extensively and there is less arousal

in the cage where they have been installed. They also have the

effect of reducing feed consumption, due in part to the reduced

heat loss as the hens tend to congregate together at night on the

perch.

82

5.64 However, Professor Tauson indicated there were some problems with perches. One problem was an increased frequency of

dirty eggs, as the manure is often not trampled through the floor

under the perch. There was also a higher frequency of cracked

eggs; although this was also dependent on the floor design of the cage.54

5.65 Some research in Scotland involves the inclusion of

nesting facilities, 'nest cups', as well as perches, in otherwise

conventional cages. It is not clear at this stage, whether it

will be feasible to include a nest box in small, for example, 4-5

bird, multi-bird cages.55

5.66 The Committee questioned Professor Tauson concerning the attitude of cage manufacturers to his work.56 He argued that

initially most cage manufacturers adopted a negative attitude,

especially because his work pointed out many of their cage design

deficiencies. However, now the attitude of manufacturers is more

positive and Tauson indicated that they consult with him on ways

to improve their designs. The result is that now the innovations

developed in Sweden have spread to most cage manufacturers in the

rest of Europe.

5.67 The EEC Directive and European codes of practice have

also had a major effect on the design of new laying cages in some

European countries. Some producers have selected cage sizes that

allow 480-500 cm2 per bird for five birds, so that if a

requirement of 600 cm2 per bird is introduced during the life of

their cages, it can be met by removing one bird.57

5.68 Evidence to the Committee suggested that some of these

design improvements have not yet being introduced in Australia.

Dr Murphy told the Committee: I

I think we should be trying to get the

improvements in cage design which exist in Europe into Australia. For instance, I rang up a couple of our cage suppliers in Brisbane the other day and asked whether they had ever heard anything about cages with perches, which

83

I believe you can now buy in Europe, or cages with solid sides. ... I got a completely

negative response. The people had never heard of such a thing as perches in the cages or

cages with solid sides.5®

5.69 NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries suggested that some form of tax relief be made available to provide an

incentive for egg producers to replace existing cages with newer

cages incorporating improved design features.5® This tax relief

would provide an incentive for farmers to make that very

substantial investment in upgrading their facilities, which would

be beneficial from both a welfare and economic point of view.

This proposal was supported by Dr Murphy although not by Dr

Sheldon of AFWA.60 He suggested that farmers replace cages for a

variety of reasons, for example, to incorporate labour saving

devices. He argued that a farmer would not replace his cages

solely for welfare considerations especially given the life of a

cage system.

5.70 The Committee believes that any improved design features

that advance welfare should be encouraged. The Committee,

recognising the significant welfare benefits that may derive from

the introduction of innovative cage design, recommends that the

Commonwealth Government provide tax incentives to encourage

farmers to invest in cages incorporating improved design

features.

84

ENDNOTES

1. Evidence, Australian Council of Egg Producers, p. S8151,

p. S8171.

2. Evidence, RSPCA Australia, p. S9062; ANZFAS, p. S8834.

3. Evidence, Australian Council of Egg Producers,

pp. S8146-55; AFWA, pp. S8937-39; and NSW Department of

Agriculture and Fisheries, pp. S8171-73.

4. Evidence, Australian Veterinary Association, p. 9350.

5. Evidence, Australian Council of Egg Producers, p. S8150.

6. Evidence, NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries,

p. S8171.

7. Evidence, Mr Roth, NSW Department of Agriculture and

Fisheries, p. 8780.

8. Evidence, Mr Holland, Australian Council of Egg Producers,

p. 8732.

9. Evidence, Dr Kite, NSW Farmers Association, p. 8732.

10. Evidence, Australian Council of Egg Producers, p. S8151.

Feather pecking refers to any pecking of the plumage, regardless of whether conducted by the bird itself or by

another bird or birds.

11. ibid., p. S8151.

12. Evidence, NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries,

p. S8171.

85

13. Evidence, NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries,

p. S8171.

14. Evidence, Dr Kite, NSW Farmers Association, p. 8702.

15. Evidence, Mr Miller, p. 9382.

16. Livestock and Grain Producers' Association of NSW, Animal

Welfare in Agriculture, n.d., pp. 40-1.

17. Evidence, ANZFAS, p. S8840.

18. ibid., p. S8841-8846.

19. Evidence, Dr H. Wirth, RSPCA Australia, p. 9601.

20. Evidence, Australian Veterinary Association,

pp. 8769-8770.

21. Evidence, Dr L. Murphy, p. S8960.

22. Australian Bureau of Animal Health, Sub-Committee on

Animal Welfare, Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of

Animals; No. 2 - The Domestic Fowl, Canberra, 1983,

Appendix 1.

23. NSW Department of Agriculture, 'Poultry Welfare -

Recommended Stocking Rates', Agdex 450/20.

24. Evidence, Mr Holland, Australian Council of Egg Producers,

p. 8716.

25. Evidence, Dr L. Murphy, p. 9553; and Dr Wirth, RSPCA

Australia, p. 9601.

26. Evidence, ANZFAS, p. S8834.

86

27. B.O. Hughes, 'Space Requirements in Poultry', in S.H.

Baxter et. al. (eds), Farm Animal Housing and Welfare,

Martinus Nijhoff, Boston, 1983, p. 122.

28. ibid., p. 121.

29. R. Zayan and J. Doyen, 'Spacing Patterns of Laying Hens

Kept at Different Densities in Battery Cages', in R. Zayan

(ed.), Social Space for Domestic Animals, Martinus

Nijhoff, Dordrecht, 1985, pp. 57-64.

30. M.S. Dawkins and C. Nicol 'No Room for Manoeuvre', New

Scientist, 16 September 1989, pp. 26-28.

31. M.S. Dawkins and S. Hardie, 'Space Needs of Laying Hens',

British Poultry Science, 1989, 30:413-416 .

32. H. Lagadic, 'Defining the Domestic Hen's Requirement for

Space: Do Operant Conditioning Techniques and Physiological Measures of Stress Agree?', in J. Faure and

A.D. Mills (eds.), The Proceedings of the Third European

Symposium on Poultry Welfare, World Poultry Science

Association, 1989, Tours, pp. 67-77.

33. See M.S. Dawkins, 'Welfare and the Structure of a Battery

Cage: Size and Cage Floor Preferences in Domestic Hens',

British Veterinary Journal 1978, 13:469-475; and M.S.

Dawkins, 'Priorities in the Cage Size and Flooring

Preferences of Domestic Hens', British Poultry Science,

1981, 22:255-263.

34. Hughes, op. cit., p. 126.

35. EEC Directive (86/113/EEC).

36. H .A. Elson, 'A Welfare Update on Laying Cages', Poultry -

Misset, April-May 1989, pp. 33-35.

87

37. Dawkins and Nicol, op. cit., p. 26.

38. Evidence, Australian Veterinary Association, p. S8770.

39. Evidence, Professor P. Singer, pp. 9454-9455.

40. Evidence, Mr Poole, NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, pp. 8781-8782.

41. Evidence, NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, p. S8172.

42. Evidence, Dr L. Murphy, p. 9546.

43. Evidence, Australian Veterinary Association, p. S8770.

44. Evidence, NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries,

p. 8766; and Dr L. Murphy, p. 9547, p. 9555.

45. R. Tauson, 'Cages for Laying Hens: Yesterday and Today -

Tomorrow?' in Faure and Mills, op. cit., p. 168.

46. R. Tauson, 'Effects on Welfare and Production of Redesign of Cages for Laying Hens', paper presented to the

Cambridge Poultry Conference, 12 April 1988, p. 5.

47. R. Tauson, Technical Environment for Caged Laying Hens,

Report No. 154, Swedish University of Agricultural

Sciences, Uppsala, 1986, p. 16.

48. Evidence, NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, p.

S8171.

49. Evidence, Mr Poole, NSW Department of Agriculture and

Fisheries, p. 8788.

50. Elson, op. cit., pp. 33-4.

88

51. Committee discussion with Professor Tauson, 14 May 1990

52. ibid.

53. ibid.

54. ibid.

55. Elson, op . cit., pp. 33-35, 86-88.

56. Committee discussion with Professor Tauson, 14 May 1990

57 . Elson, op . cit., p. 33.

58. Evidence, Dr L . Murphy, p. 9555.

59. Evidence, p. 8766, ]

NSW Department of Agriculture and

p. 8788, p. S8173.

Fisheries,

60. Evidence, Dr L. Murphy, p. 9554.

61. Evidence, Dr Sheldon, p. 9524.

89

CHAPTER 6

ALTERNATIVE HOUSING SYSTEMS

6.1 In response to criticisms of intensive poultry

production by animal welfare groups and others a number of

alternative systems have been proposed. These systems generally provide a greater space allowance within which the fowls may

move, and some provide access to litter and perches.

6.2 This chapter reviews the various alternative egg

production systems operating in Australia and overseas countries.

It also looks at recent developments in Europe where, in some

countries, conventional cages are being phased out and alternative egg production systems have been introduced. The

chapter also looks at the economic viability of alternative

systems and finally considers the issue of consumer demand for

non-cage eggs.

6.3 The Committee, during the course of the inquiry

inspected a range of different housing systems, including aviary,

deep litter and free-range systems in addition to various types

of cage systems, in several States. The information gained during

these visits, and especially the opportunity to discuss features

of these alternative sytems with producers, assisted the

Committee in gaining some appreciation of both the advantages and

disadvantages of the respective systems. The Committee also

received a large volume of evidence in submissions and at public

hearings from both proponents and opponents of the alternative

egg production systems. In addition, the Committee reviewed

various Australian and overseas studies that have examined these

systems.

91

6.4 In Australia, as discussed in Chapter 5, the cage system

accounts for over 90 per cent of layer production. There are, in

addition, free-range farms in all States, as well as some

relatively small, barn, deep litter and semi-intensive systems.

However, the collective flock size from these alternative systems

represents only a small proportion of the total commercial laying

industry in Australia.-*-

An Analysis of Alternative Systems

6.5 A range of alternative systems to the conventional cage

systems have been proposed over the years. Some of these systems

have been introduced on an experimental basis, such as get-away cages, while others have been introduced commercially, such as

deep litter and aviary systems.

6.6 The main alternatives include:

• other cage systems such as get-away cages;

• other intensive systems such as deep litter, and

aviary or perchery systems;

• semi-intensive systems which combine a house and

small yard or straw yard; and

• extensive or free-range systems.

These alternative systems are discussed and evaluated below.

Get-Away Cages

6.7 Get-away cages are enlarged versions of a conventional

cage, housing 15-30 birds each, with one or more vertical levels

of perches inside the cage which allow the birds to get away from

each other. Attached to the outside of the cages are boxes for

nesting, dust bathing and ground scratching.

92

6.8 The concept of the get-away cage was first developed at

the Experimental Husbandry Farm at Gleadthorpe, England, in the

mid 1970s. Although this type of cage system has been introduced

experimentally in a number of overseas countries it has not been

tested in Australia.

6.9 These cage systems are designed as a means of

maintaining the economy of production and high egg quality

associated with conventional cages while at the same time

providing birds with nest boxes, dust bathing boxes, perches and

enough space to move around and get away from other birds. The

major research into get-away cages has been conducted at Celle

Poultry Research Centre, West Germany. Current experiments, which

were first commenced in 1979, have yet to prove this system as

being a suitable alternative for laying hens. Dr Murphy, a

poultry researcher, noted that the following problems had been

highlighted at Celle in relation to get-away cages:

• Inspection and access to the birds is difficult. The

nest and dust boxes and feed troughs obscure vision

into the cages, which also makes behavioural

observation of the birds difficult.

• Birds do not restrict their laying to the nest boxes

but nest and dust-bathe in them. This results in up

to one-third of eggs being dirty plus an unknown

number of destroyed or eaten eggs. Costly nest litter

has to be replaced frequently and the hens also

destroy 'permanent' nest mats.

• Birds not only dust-bathe in the sand box but lay

there and those eggs also become soiled or broken.

Also sand is spread around the cage by the birds,

damaging the movable parts such as manure belts. •

• Perching birds soil birds below and birds may abrade

their back on overhead perches.2

93

6.10 Experiments are however being conducted at Celle with

design modifications to try to overcome some of the problems

discussed above while maintaining an economically efficient system.

6.11 The Committee also discussed the concept of get-away

cages with Professor Tauson of the Swedish University of

Agricultural Sciences. He indicated that the experiments he has

conducted with these types of cages have been mixed - while the

birds have an enriched environment compared with the conventional

cage, he reported there was higher feed consumption and some

deterioration in foot condition and plumage condition.3

6.12 However, get-away cages do allow birds greater space. Observations on birds in get-away cages at Celle found that birds

preen more in get-away cages than in conventional cages, although

this may be because conventional cages are so small that they

inhibit preening or because the get-away birds have dirty

plumage.4 From the operators' perspective the get-away cages have

the same advantage as conventional cages in that there is no

direct physical contact with the birds. While the get-away cages

are still cages, in the sense that they have bars, and therefore

still convey confinement and restriction of freedom, they do not

restrict the performance of certain types of activities, as

happens in conventional cages.

6.13 Another construction similar to the get-away cage is the

Ventilated Litter Shelf System (VLSS). The system consists of

cages with groups of 15-25 birds per cage at 720-1200 cm2 floor

space per hen. The cages also include nests and perches. The main

difference compared to the get-away cage is that the cage floor

itself is covered with litter. It may also be ventilated by air

pressure from under the cage and up through the top of the cage

in order to keep up the condition of the litter and to be able to

filtrate the dust from the air in the poultry house. For this

purpose the sides of this system are made of plexiglass.

94

6.14 The results so far obtained with the VLSS-system are

encouraging with a low frequency of floor laid eggs reported and relatively easy inspection of birds.5

Deep Litter

6.15 In deep litter systems, birds are housed in sheds on an

earthen floor covered with wood shavings, sawdust or some similar

material to absorb moisture and droppings. For laying hens, nests

are provided. Groups of birds may be confined in pens within the shed or given access to the full shed area.

6.16 Several contributors to the inquiry, including Dr Wirth

of RSPCA (Australia), favoured this system over the cage system.

Mr Bell of the AVA also suggested that if the cage system was

phased out, the deep litter system would be his preferred

option.^ The Committee questioned Mr Bell as to the likely effect on the health of the birds of this system and whether under a

deep litter more chemicals would have to be used on the birds to

control worms, lice, coccidiosis and other diseases that they may

pick up off the ground. However, Mr Bell saw few potential health

problems, He argued that:

... [it] would depend on how well managed the deep litter system was. If a high standard of quarantine and hygiene was maintained, if the litter was cleaned out between every batch, a

lot of those potential problems could be controlled by management. There would not necessarily be an increased use of drugs, particularly during the laying period. With coccidiosis, for example, certainly birds, young chickens on litter, need to receive a coccidiostat continuously to prevent major outbreak of coccidiosis. But generally, by the time they have approached adulthood they become immune and those drugs can be

withdrawn. So, considering the laying cycle, it is not necessary to feed drugs

continuously.?

95

6.17 Mr Bell, however, emphasised some of the disadvantages

of the system. He noted that:

... the main disadvantages of moving egg

producing birds into deep litter systems have come back to economics again. The birds are more active so they consume more feed and there would be higher labour costs in

collecting the eggs and generally looking after the birds.8

6.18 Some other disadvantages associated with deep litter

systems have been identified. For instance, a large number of

eggs are laid on the floor and many become extremely soiled. In

addition, unrestricted access in deep litter sheds can lead to

suffocation and injury to birds. Domestic fowls frequently panic

and take fright at an unfamiliar noise or smell and flock to one

end or corner of the shed. Food consumption also tends to be

greater than in cage systems. Deep litter birds may also be

exposed to many of the problems encountered in 'free range' systems such as disease (via access to droppings in the litter),

parasites, difficulty of inspection and supervision. Feather

pecking and cannibalism may also be a problem. This system also

requires greater capital investments per bird than cage system

because of the housing space requirements.9

6.19 While acknowledging these disadvantages such systems

also provide a number of welfare advantages. For instance, there

is freedom to move within the house area and an opportunity to

stretch wings to the full extent and to exercise in a variety of

different ways. There is also the opportunity to use nest boxes

and achieve privacy when laying. There is also no exposure to

predators in this system.

Aviary or Perchery Systems

6.20 An aviary or perchery system is a plastic site house

with perches, feed and water on several vertical levels. Dr

Murphy reported on two centres studying aviaries - the

Experimental Husbandry Farm at Gleadthorpe, England and the

Federal Small Animal Research Institute at Celle in West Germany.

96

Both aviaries provided a litter section at floor level and a

vertical arrangement of wiremesh floor and/or wooden perches or

platforms. Preliminary trials of the system commenced in 1979. Dr

Murphy reported that initial results of these experiments which

indicated the following disadvantages of both systems:

• there was extensive floor laying by birds with the

resultant loss of eggs through the slats;

• the hens used nest litter as a medium for scratching

and dust bathing, thus soiling the nests, resulting

in over a third of the eggs being dirty and requiring frequent replenishment of nest litter;

• feed consumption was consistently higher in the

aviary than in cages. This may be due to increased

food wastage or changes in energy requirements due to

postural differences and an increase in activity;

• there were unacceptably high levels of ammonia in the

aviary;

• clean out between flocks was difficult as the slats

and most of the equipment had to be removed from the

buildings for effective cleaning;

• inspection and access to birds was difficult

(movement around the aviary by people was difficult

as many sections had restricted head room);

• birds in the aviary had fewer head feathers and a

greater incidence of comb damage suggesting higher

levels of aggression than occurring in cages; and

• feather pecking and cannibalism have been a major

problem in both aviaries and both have reported

severe feather loss amongst the birds.*0

97

6.21 Dr Murphy also observed the behaviour of the birds in

the Celle aviary. Her observations suggested some aspects of the

birds' welfare was improved (e.g. with the provision of nest

boxes, litter for scratching, dust bathing and space for running

and wing flapping) but in some respects it was reduced. A very

high level of agonistic behaviour was observed - although the

birds had no physical restraints on movements these were social

restraints e.g. birds 'guarded' the ladders between the two slat

levels, challenging all birds attempting to ascend or descend.

While it appeared that the birds had complete freedom to perform

any behaviour this was not necessarily the case.11 Ewbank also reported that bone damage may be significantly higher in these

systems. -*-2

6.22 Commercial aviary systems have been introduced in Switzerland and the Netherlands and this system is the preferred

production system by large producers in these countries. Studies

of these systems have reported that there are several advantages

of these systems including easy and effective inspection of birds

and the possible mechanisation of daily routines such as feeding,

watering, egg collection and removal of droppings.1^ a study by

Folsch on aviary systems operating in Switzerland reported that

fowls in such systems displayed a tight plumage, which among

other things conserved energy, thus preventing an excessive feed

intake and beak and claw-cutting was found to be unnecessary as

the litter-covered floor surface contained abrasive material such

as sand which kept claws and beaks blunt and short.^

6.23 These observations suggest that many of the problems

noted in the experimental studies may be overcome, at least to some extent, where the system has been introduced on a commercial

basis. However, in discussions with Professor Tauson the

Committee was told that in the Netherlands, the tiered wire-floor

aviary system has not been totally successful.1^

98

Covered Straw Yard

6.24 The straw yard system is a covered shed, uninsulated and naturally ventilated, giving protection from the weather. The

floor is deeply strawed and is kept topped up throughout the

laying period. Inside the house there are nest boxes for laying,

hanging feeders and drinkers and movable perch units for roosting.

6.25 Both advantages and disadvantages have been reported for

this system from studies conducted in the United Kingdom. The system compares favourably in capital costs with cage systems.

Production has been found to be much the same as for birds kept

in cages and food consumption is also similar. The similar levels

of food consumption may be due to the birds deriving extra food

from the straw and the fact that caged birds consume food and water more from boredom than actual need. The birds have a varied

physical environment and are able to scratch in the straw. The

birds appear to develop a good covering of feathers which seem to

act as effective insulation for the cold weather. Running costs

are not excessive since there are no fans or mechanical equipment - with only artificial lighting as essential.

6.26 The disadvantages of the system is that it requires more

skill and care to operate than a cage system, and it cannot be

easily automated. In addition, some eggs may become dirty,

depending on the state of the litter. While such a system fits

well into a mixed farm environment it is unlikely that the system

would be suitable for large-scale production.16

Free-Range Systems

6.27 This system, referred to as 'free-range', 'open-range' or the 'flock' system, involves running birds in an open paddock

where they are free to roam at will. Usually, shelter is provided

by a central shed or a number of small sheds spread over the

area.

99

6.28 As indicated previously in the chapter, there are

free-range farms in all States. In New South Wales there are

four producers which have between 1,000 and 6,000 hens per farm

on range. Victoria has eight producers each with between 1,000

and 8,000 hens on range. In Western Australia there are five

range producers each with 1,000 to 6,000 hens, some of which have

a more conventional semi-intensive element to their operations.

Tasmania has one producer with more than 1,000 hens on range. In

Queensland and South Australia there are no range producers with

more than 1,000 hens . -*-7

6.29 The Committee visited a number of free-range farms

during the course of the inquiry. In general, the Committee found

that the physical condition of the birds was not as good as in

the cage systems visited. The Committee saw evidence of feather

pecking and cannibalism. In addition, the hens were observed

drinking from stagnant and polluted pools of water and the areas

where the birds were located were often not adequately grassed.

There also appeared to be only minimal use made by the birds of

the range area, with most birds using the sheds. The Committee

was also concerned at the risk of disease under these conditions

and the prospect of dirty or contaminated eggs. There also

appeared to be a major problem with the inspection of the birds.

6.30 Many of these concerns were raised in evidence presented

to the Committee by witnesses such as the ACEP, AVA, and the NSW

Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. The AVA and Dr Kite, of

the NSW Farmers Association claimed that the risk of disease and

internal parasites was high under free-range systems because

parasites and disease organisms are carried in the soil, litter

and droppings. The Committee also raised the possible problem

of salmonella contamination of eggs in free-range systems. Dr

Kite claimed that:

In free-range situations, if they [the eggs] are laid in nests, if there is manure in nests or even if they are just laid on the ground, there is a fair risk that those eggs could pick up all sorts of contaminants, and

salmonella is one that could certainly be

100

picked up in that way. Yes, there is a much greater risk of salmonella getting into eggs under free-range conditions than there is under cage conditions.19

6.31 As to the question of chemical contamination of eggs in general, Mr Holland of ACEP stated that:

The fact that the birds are running on the

ground, and v e r y o ften in backyard situations

u nder fruit trees and this sort of thing,

w here the trees have been treated with

chemicals, and the birds tend to absorb these

chemicals. A n examination of all the reported

chemical c o n tamination of eggs w o u l d s how that the largest p e rcentage of these come from

free-range operations.20

6.32 The AVA also claimed that former agricultural land may

be contaminated with pesticides and other chemicals, to the detriment of both the birds and the people consuming their

eggs.21

6.33 Inspection of birds is often difficult under free range

conditions because they are spread over such a wide area (usually

240-370 birds per hectare). Therefore, birds suffering from

disease or injury may remain unnoticed and left to suffer or die.

6.34 In addition, the well-established 'peck order' of

domestic fowls is uncontrolled under 'open range' conditions.

Cannibalism and feather pecking among domestic fowls can occur

under these conditions where the birds are not strictly

controlled. Dr Kite told the Committee that in a free-range

situation the birds' social hierarchy, which is based on

recognising a small number of flock mates, is disrupted. She

added:

W h e n they have a lot of other mates to

recognise you run into trouble, because

o b v i o u s l y t hey cannot recognise a thousand

others. That is w h e r e agonistic or aggressive

b e h a v i o u r tends to come about. That is w h y you

see m ore aggressive behaviour at free range,

be c a u s e each of those birds has potentially a

m u c h larger group of companions that it is

regu l a r l y coming into contact w i t h . 22

1 01

6.35 In addition, there is no control over environmental

conditions on the range. Access to water, and the quality of that

water, may be a problem; and extremes of temperature can have

serious effects. The Committee questioned Mr Holland about

comparisons of losses in heatwave conditions between caged and

free-range birds. He argued that:

I imagine they would be much the same. The free-range sheds tend not to have the

sophisticated cooling equipment but the birds have natural methods of cooling themselves in a free-range situation - they get into the soil and transfer heat in that direction and they tend to move to cooler areas. I would not think there would be a great deal of

difference.23

6.36 Mortality may also be higher than under other systems in

part due to predation; in the cage system this problem is

eliminated. In a cage system, Mr Holland estimated that the

mortality rate was about one per cent per month, with some farms

averaging half of one per cent.24 Dr Kite argued that mortality

is typically much higher in free-range systems, predominantly due to increased cannibalism.25

6.37 A further disadvantage of the 'free-range' system is

that eggs are laid in various parts of the paddock and often in

unhygienic conditions. Failure to find eggs on the day of laying

- a common occurrence under these systems - can result in eggs

that are unfresh reaching the market.

6.38 Feed consumption, labour requirements and management

demands are also considerably higher under this system leading to

greater production costs. Generous land requirements are also

needed. The Committee estimated that if the current population of

laying hens in Australia were put out at range, at a stocking

density of 10 square metres per bird, as recommended by ANZFAS,

it would require a land area of some 13,500 hectares or 135 million square metres.26

102

6.39 Annual egg production is likely to be lower in free

range systems than for other systems. Egg production costs are

also higher than under alternative systems. A study by Carnell

estimated that in the United Kingdom egg production costs for

free range eggs were 52 per cent greater than for caged eggs.27

6.40 Despite the disadvantages and problems associated with

free-range production, proponents including Professor Singer and

others, claim that the system provides considerable welfare

benefits. They claim that the birds are free to move within the range area and within the shed or sheds provided. A varied

physical environment is provided with ample opportunity to

exercise and dust bathe. The environment provides an opportunity

to feed on vegetation and to augment and vary diet in other ways

during the warmer months of the year. There is also the

opportunity to use nest boxes and therefore to get away from

other birds when laying and achieve privacy.28

6.41 While it is possible to extract a premium from the

market to cover the extra production costs, market research

indicates that less than five per cent of consumers are willing

to pay this premium.28 Evidence to the Committee also indicated

that a certain proportion of eggs sold as free-range are in fact

from cage systems.88

6.42 Mr McMaster of the ACEP also suggested that the premium

would be greater and their market share would decline, if

free-range operators had to establish entirely new farms or if

they had to make significant capital replacements to their

existing facilities. He suggested that, at the present time, most

of the producers who supply the market are only covering their

marginal costs.8· * ·

6.43 It is often claimed that eggs produced under open range

conditions have a higher nutritional value t han eggs produced

under intensive conditions. However research in the U nited

Kingdom and Australia, comparing eggs from different production

techniques and at different times of the y ear has found that

103

there is no significant nutritional difference between the

various systems.32 Evidence presented to the Committee indicated

that free-range eggs probably contain slightly more chemical contamination because of the way they are produced.33

6.44 Another claim often made in relation to eggs produced in

open-range systems is that they are fresher than eggs from cage

systems. However, in many instances, the opposite may be the case

as so called 'farm fresh', free-range eggs are produced under

largely unsupervised conditions. Whereas Open range' produced

eggs may not be collected for some time after laying, intensively

produced eggs are collected immediately, packed, refrigerated and sent to market on the same day.

6.45 In summary, it appears that there are numerous welfare

disadvantages associated with free-range egg production in

Australia. On the basis of the evidence received and its

observations of free-range operations, the Committee believes

that such systems have a higher incidence of disease, a

significant problem of predation; the possibility of chemical

contamination of eggs; and a high rate of feather pecking and

cannibalism, when compared with other systems of egg production.

Evidence also indicates that such systems require large land

areas on which to operate and a high level of stockmanship

skills. Labour inputs and overall production costs are also

considerably greater than for alternative systems.

Recent Developments in Europe

6.46 Several countries in Europe have either begun

phasing-out battery cages and/or introducing alternative egg

production systems on a commercial basis.

6.47 In 1981 Switzerland began a 10 year program for the

phasing out of the battery cage system. The 1981 Swiss

regulations prohibits the installation of new battery cage

systems and existing systems must be converted to alternative

104

systems by the end of 1991. In addition, by the end of 1991 all

laying hens are required by law to have direct access to

protected, darkened, soft-floored or litter-lined nesting boxes.

There has been noticeable progress towards the introduction of

alternative systems under these regulations. ANZFAS provided figures that indicated that at the beginning of 1990, some 70-75 per cent of Swiss eggs were produced from hens housed under

alternative systems. Data in a study by Amgarten and Mettler

confirmed these figures - the study estimated that 35 per cent of

eggs on the Swiss market were produced from battery systems, 50

per cent from new housing systems and 15 per cent from free-range farms.34

6.48 To date, five alternative systems have been approved by the Swiss Federal Veterinary Office. Smaller producers have

generally introduced deep litter systems whereas larger producers have generally preferred the aviary system. The number of

semi-intensive and free range establishments is also increasing due to the considerable consumer demand for non-battery eggs.35

6.49 However, it also needs to be noted that Swiss egg

production provides only 50 per cent of total consumption - with

the remainder imported from cage systems in Germany and elsewhere in Europe.36 The Swiss egg market is also relatively small and

production has traditionally been concentrated in small farming

units, making the transfer to alternative systems less difficult.

Professor Tauson also told the Committee that some 30 per cent of

birds are still in cage systems, albeit in cages that offer

considerably more space per hen than in other countries. The

Swiss cages are required to provide laying hens with 800 cm2 of

space per bird and also are required to provide perches and nest

boxes.37

6.50 In Sweden, a new Animal Protection Act came into force

which in 1988 providing for the phasing-out of battery cages over

the next ten years. Since 1 July 1988 the construction of new

battery cages has not been permitted.

105

6.51 ANZFAS, in evidence to the committee claimed that the

Swedish Government had indicated that the free-range system will

be considered as an alternative to the current battery cage

system.38 in discussions with the Committee, Professor Tauson

said that Sweden had not as yet decided on an alternative system.

He indicated that the alternative systems tested to date had not

been able to meet a number of criteria laid down by the

Government - that is, that any new system not impair the hens'

health, lead to increased medication, involve beak trimming

(which is banned in Sweden), nor impair the working

environment.39 Professor Tauson also told the Committee that he

believed a free-range system would not be a realistic option in

Sweden because of the climatic conditions.

6.52 The Dutch Government is also committed to the

phasing-out of the battery cage system of egg production by July

1994. ANZFAS claimed that the Government has set down specific

regulations for the housing of laying hens to apply by that date.

For instance, a floor surface of at least 1,000 cm2 must be

provided for laying hens and at least one third of the floor surface must be provided with litter.40 Regulations have also

been established for aviary and tiered wire floor systems.

However, Professor Tauson claimed that these regulations have not

yet been agreed to. 41

6.53 At present 15 per cent of Dutch eggs are produced in

deep litter systems. Since the 1970s consumer preference for

non-battery eggs has been growing and has led to the development

of alternative systems. A survey conducted in the Netherlands in

April 1986 revealed that 86 per cent of respondents indicated a

willingness to pay more for 'animal freely' products such as deep

litter eggs.42

6.54 The demand for deep litter eggs comes not only from the

domestic market but from neighbouring West Germany as well which

has imported over 40 million deep litter eggs (over 15 per cent

of production) annually from the Netherlands over the past few

106

years. In the past, production has been mainly on deep litter

farms with fewer than 10,000 hens, however, the number of larger

farms is increasing and farms of 40,000 hens are not unusual.4^

6.55 In Denmark, although legislation has not been passed to

ban cages, battery cage egg production is declining and the

number of new alternative farms in increasing. Strict Danish

requirements for hen welfare, such as the establishment of maximum stocking densities of 7 birds per square metre and a

minimum litter area of one-third of floor area, has provided an

incentive for farmers to convert to deep litter production and

other alternative systems. Since the 1970s egg production using

deep litter systems has increased significantly. It is estimated

that at the present rate of conversion for battery cage to deep

litter production, by the end of the 1990s non-cage production

will account for 80 per cent of Danish egg production.44

The Economics of Alternative Systems

6.56 Several studies have been undertaken in overseas

countries and Australia which have attempted to assess the

economic viability of alternative systems, by calculating the

differences in production costs between various production

systems.

6.57 A study by Elson in 1986 compared the production costs

for different egg production systems in the United Kingdom. Table

6.1 shows the results of that study.

107

Table 6.1: Egg Production Costs in Different Housing Systems

System Space3 Cost*5

Laying cage 450 cm2/bird 100

Laying cage 560 cm2/bird 105

Laying cage 750 cm2/bird 115

Laying cage 450 cm2/bird + perch 100

Laying cage 450 cm2/bird + perch + nest 102

Shallow laying cage 450 cm2/bird 102

Get-away cage, 2-tier aviary 10-12 birds/m2 115

Aviary and perchery and multi-tier housing 20 birds/m2 105-108

Deep litter 7-10 birds/m2 118

Straw yard 3 birds/m2 130

Semi-intensive 1000 birds/ha 135 ( 140)c

Free range 400 birds/ha 150 (170)c

a Space refers in cages to cage floor area, in houses to house floor area and in extensive systems to land area, b Taking battery cages as the 100% base cost. c Includes land rental.

Source: H.A. Elson, 'The Economics of Poultry Welfare', in Report on Second Symposium on Poultry Welfare, World Poultry Science Association, Celle, 1986.

6.58 The table shows that production costs for eggs produced

in battery cages under various stocking densities increased from

between 2 and 15 per cent over the cost of eggs produced in

battery cages at a stocking density of 450 cm2 per bird. There

were cost increases of between 5 to 18 per cent for eggs produced

in aviary or deep litter systems; increases of between 35 to 40

per cent for eggs produced in semi-intensive systems, and

increases of 50 to 70 per cent in free-range systems.

6.59 A Dutch study published in 1989 by the Institute of

Agricultural Engineering estimated that production costs for eggs produced under aviary systems were 4.6 per cent higher than eggs

produced under cage systems. For deep litter systems the

comparable figure was 15.7 per cent higher.*5

108

6.60 A study by Amgarten and Mettler compared the production

costs of three groups of alternative systems in Switzerland. The study found that production costs were between 4 and 9 per cent

higher than that of the battery cage system.4® The higher egg

production costs in the new housing systems were largely due to

higher equipment and construction costs and increased labour

costs. Feed costs per egg were found to be similar to those of

battery cages.47 Evidence also indicates that despite the

availability of cheaper foreign eggs, Swiss eggs are still

largely preferred by Swiss consumers.4®

6.61 In 1980 the UK Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and

Food (MAFF) made a cost comparison of different commercial egg

production systems. The egg production costs were estimated as

follows:

Cages

Deep Litter

Straw Yards Free-Range

40.5p per dozen

47.4p per dozen

47.4p per dozen

72.5p per dozen

(+ 17%)

(+ 17%)

(+ 79%),49

6.62 The additional costs of egg production under systems

other than battery cages were:

Deep Litter

Straw Yards

Free-Range

6.9p per dozen

6.9p per dozen 32.Op per dozen.50

6.63 The data show that egg production costs from deep litter

and straw yard systems were 17 per cent greater than for battery

produced eggs. Free-range egg production costs were some 79 per

cent greater than battery produced eggs. The cost increases for

free-range eggs were mainly due to higher labour costs, lower egg

production, and additional land rental costs and fixed capital

investment costs associated with these systems.

109

6.64 Another comparative study of systems in the United

Kingdom was conducted by Carnell.51 The different egg production

costs are shown below:

Table 6.2: A Comparison of Egg Production Costs

Cost Percentage

increase (a)

Battery cages (5 birds/cage) 44p

Deep-litter (1.5 ft^/bird) 48p 9

Aviary 49p 11

Straw yard 54p 23

Semi-intensive 58p 32

Free-range 67p 52

(a) Percentage increase over battery egg production.

SOURCE: P. Carnell, 'An Economic Appraisal of Less Intensive Systems', in Universities Federation for Animal Welfare, Alternatives to Intensive Husbandry Systems, UFAW, Potters Bar, 1981, p. 24.

6.65 This study also found that egg production costs were

substantially greater for extensive systems. For example,

free-range production costs were found to be some 52 per cent

greater than eggs produced under the battery system. However, the

figures were significantly lower than the MAFF estimates.

6.66 Prior to the mid-1980s there had been little systematic

attempt to assess the economic implications of alternative

systems in Australia. In 1987, Macindoe estimated the production

costs in Australia of the caged system compared with three

alternative systems, based on costs in Australia in 1985-86.52 The alternative systems were the tiered wire-floor (TWF) aviary,

litter/slats and free-range systems.

110

Table 6.3: Estimated Cost of Egg Production in Australia from Caged Layers and Alternative Systems

Cages TWF Aviary(a)

(cents/doz)

Litter/ Slats Free-Range

Depreciation & fixed costs (ex. labour) 20 22 22 30

Feed 40 40 40 45

Flock replacement 20 22 22 22

Marketing 15 15 15 15

Labour 10 12 14 30

Other costs 5 5 5 5

TOTAL 110 116 118 147

(a) TWF: tiered wire-floor aviary system

SOURCE: R.N. Macindoe, 'Alternative Systems for Housing Layers', in P. Henry et. al. (eds.), Intensive Animal Welfare, Australian Veterinary Association, Brisbane, 1987, p. 133.

6.67 The data in Table 6.3 indicate that egg production costs

under free-range conditions were some 34 per cent greater than

eggs produced under cage systems. Production costs under aviary

and litter/slats systems were six and seven per cent greater

respectively, when compared with cage systems.

6.68 The study showed that the major operating costs

associated with commercial cage egg production were, in order of

importance, the cost of feed , flock replacement, marketing amd

labour. All operating (or variable costs) were directly related

to the level of egg production.

6.69 For free-range systems, labour costs were shown to be

significantly higher than for alternative systems as fewer birds

could be maintained per unit of labour under such a system.

Depreciation and fixed costs were also shown to be significantly greater under free-range systems. Feed costs were shown to be

higher and flock replacement costs were also greater, due to higher mortality rates under free-range conditions.

111

Consumer Preference

6.70 Some evidence received by the Committee indicated that

there was an increasing demand in Australia for non-cage eggs,

although the market for such eggs was still relatively small. A study conducted in 1984 for the Victorian Egg Board revealed that

76 per cent of people surveyed were prepared to pay a price

premium of 50 cents per dozen for a free-range product, 47 per

cent would pay 80 cents per dozen more and 32 per cent up to

$1.00 more.54

6.71 The Victorian Egg Marketing Board estimated that

free-range egg sales in Victoria increased by 278 per cent over a

four year period. Other evidence provided to the Committee

indicated that the demand for free-range eggs far exceeded

demand.55

6.72 Overseas evidence also indicates a growing consumer

demand for non-battery produced eggs. As indicated previously,

some 65 to 75 per cent of eggs on the Swiss market are

non-battery eggs and demand is increasing. However, in Australia,

as reported earlier in this chapter, NSW Department of

Agriculture and Fisheries indicated that at present free-range

egg production only accounts for about five per cent of the

market.56

6.73 The Committee recognises that the current cage system of

egg production provides a plentiful and relatively cheap source

of supply of a basic and important food product to consumers.

While many consumers may be willing to support the ideal of

non-cage production of eggs, fewer may be willing to pay the

higher costs associated with the production of these eggs. The

Committee believes that any significant shift towards non-cage

egg production should be dictated primarily by market forces,

having due regard for the animal welfare implications of any

change. The Committee believes that if consumers are willing to

pay more for eggs produced in non-cage systems the industry will

respond to this changing market demand.

112

Conclusion

6.74 The Committee has examined a range of alternative

housing systems available for layers. It believes that the

welfare advantages of particular systems need to be balanced

against potential welfare disadvantages. For instance, while semi-intensive and free-range systems may provide an opportunity

for birds to move freely within the house or on the range and

engage in a variety of activities to satisfy their behavioural needs, a high incidence of disease, high mortality rates, and

other welfare problems are often encountered in these systems.

6.75 The Committee considers on the basis of its observations of free-range farms in particular and from the evidence received,

that this type of housing system may have many negative welfare

consequences. In addition to a high incidence of disease, feather pecking and cannibalism appear to be more pronounced.

Environmental conditions are often difficult to control; feed

consumption, labour requirements and management demands are considerably higher than for other systems; egg production is

often lower and there is a risk of contaminated eggs reaching the market.

6.76 The Committee believes that a number of welfare concerns

associated with the free-range system of egg production, and the

significantly higher production costs of this system, will

inhibit the introduction of large-scale free-range operations in

Australia.

6.77 However, the Committee believes that certain other

non-cage systems could be viable in Australia, at least in the

longer term. The fact that several European countries are

phasing-out the battery-cage system of production and introducing

a range of other semi-intensive systems, indicates that such

systems are potentially commercially viable. Such developments,

although largely in their initial stages, offer the prospect of a

change in egg production methods. The Committee believes that these overseas developments should be closely monitored in

Australia.

113

6.78 The Committee, however, believes that any large-scale

introduction of alternative systems in Australia needs to be

proceeded with cautiously taking into account the animal welfare

implications of any such change. As Ewbank has noted:

It could be both a welfare and an economic disaster to force the present population of battery birds out into the relatively untried alternative systems. Free range and

intermediate systems (percheries, aviaries, straw yards, deep litter, etc.) do give the birds considerably more freedom but they are more difficult to run than battery units: they demand a higher level of stockmanship, the outdoor systems seem to have a higher level of disease, and the eggs cost more to produce. There is a real need for further research and development work on the intermediate and free range systems, in the hope that the problems will be solved and that it will finally be possible to phase out battery cages.57

6.79 The Committee believes that when assessing the many types of alternative systems that have been suggested as being

capable of replacing the present intensive systems, a primary

concern should be whether the proposed systems provide a true

welfare advantage for the birds in terms of their physiological

and behavioural needs. In addition, the Committee believes it

important that Australia avoid the situation that occurred in

several European countries where new systems were not properly

evaluated under local conditions prior to their introduction.

Accordingly, the Committee recommends that the banning of laying

cages be considered when it can be demonstrated that viable

alternative systems can be developed suitable to Australian

conditions and that these alternative systems have positive

welfare advantages. The Committee further recommends that a

combination of cage and non-cage production systems be continued

with market forces dictating the relative market share of the

different systems.

6.80 The Committee notes that while significant research has

been conducted into alternative systems in many overseas

countries, comparatively little research has been undertaken in

Australia. As there are several different genetic strains of bird

114

in Australia compared with European strains, and these strains

will, on the basis of overseas experience, respond differently to

various husbandry systems, the Committee believes it to be essential that more research be initiated in Australia.

6.81 The Committee believes that any research in Australia

should also examine both the welfare aspects and economic

viability of alternative systems to ensure the long-term success

of such systems. The Committee also believes that the industry

itself, State governments and other interest groups should be consulted throughout the research process. It notes that in some

overseas countries a wide consultative process did not occur. In

addition, overseas experience has shown that in some intances

those conducting the research had little practical experience of

large-scale husbandry systems. A broad consultation with

qualified people may have predicted in advance many of the problems encountered. The Committee therefore recommends that the

Commonwealth Government fund a research project in Australia to

examine and evaluate alternative housing systems that may be

suitable to Australian conditions and that this review:

(a) examine overseas research findings into alternative

housing systems;

(b) assess the welfare benefits and any welfare

disadvantages of such systems;

(c) evaluate the economic viability of alternative

systems; and

(d) consult with poultry producers, State Governments,

the veterinary profession, and specialist

ethologists, both in the initial and subsequent

stages of the project.

115

ENDNOTES

1. Letter to the Committee from the Australian Council of Egg

Producers (ACEP), dated 28 May 1990.

2. Evidence, Dr L. Murphy, pp. S9002-4.

3. Committee discussion with Professor Tauson, 14 May 1990.

4. Evidence, Dr. L. Murphy, p. S9004.

5. R. Tauson, 'Cages for Laying Hens: Yesterday and Today-Tomorrow?', in J.M. Faure and A.D. Mills (eds.), The

Proceedings of the Third European Symposium on Poultry

Welfare, World Poultry Science Association, Tours, 1989,

p. 174 .

6. Evidence, Dr Wirth, Royal Society for the Prevention of

Cruelty to Animals (Australia), p. 9596 and Mr Bell,

Australian Veterinary Association, p. 9366.

7. Evidence, Mr Bell, Australian Veterinary Association,

p. 9366.

8. ibid., p. 9366.

9. Livestock and Grain Producers' Association of NSW, Animal

Welfare in Agriculture, n.d., pp.35-6.

10. Evidence, Dr L. Murphy, pp. 8956-57, pp. S9009-9010.

11. ibid., pp. S9011-9012.

12. Personal communication with Dr R. Ewbank.

13. ANZFAS supplementary submission, p. 5.

116

14. D. Folsch et.al, 'Research on Alternatives to the Battery System for Laying hens', Applied Animal Behaviour Science,

20 (1988), pp. 34-36.

15. Committee discussion with Professor Tauson, 14 May 1990.

16. D. Sainsbury, 'The Covered Straw Yard', in Universities

Federation for Animal Welfare, Alternatives to Intensive

Husbandry Systems, UFAW, Potters Bar, 1981, pp.37-8.

17. Letter to the Committee from the Australian Council of Egg

Producers, dated 28 May 1990.

18. Evidence, Dr. Kite, NSW Farmers Association, p. 8702; and

Australian Veterinary Association, pp. S8769-70.

19.

20.

21.

22.

23.

ibid., p. 8702.

Evidence, Mr Holland, Australian Council of Egg Producers,

p. 8701.

Evidence, Australian Veterinary Association, pp. S8770.

Evidence, Dr Kite, p. 8713.

Evidence, Mr Holland, p. 8711.

24. ibid., p. 8720.

25. Evidence, Dr Kite, p. 8714.

26. There are approximately 13.5 million laying hens in

Australia. See evidence, Australian and New Zealand

Federation of Animal Societies, pp. S8834-5. Calculations

provided to the Committee by the Statistics Group,

Parliamentary Library.

117

27. P. Carnell, 'An Economic Appraisal of Less-Intensive

Systems in Egg Production and Breeding Pigs', in

Universities Federation for Animal Welfare, o p .cit, pp.

21-31.

28. Evidence, Professor Singer, p p . 9474-76.

29. Evidence, NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries,

p. S8173.

30. Evidence, Mr Holland, Australian Council of Egg Producers,

p. 8700.

31. Evidence, Mr McMaster, Australian Council of Egg

Producers, p. 8702.

32. Livestock and Grain Producers Association, op.cit., p .41.

33. Evidence, Mr Holland, Australian Council of Egg Producers,

p. 8701.

34. M. Amgarten and A. Mettler, 'Economic Consequences of the

Introduction of Alternative Housing Systems for Laying

Hens in Switzerland', in Faure and Mills, op. cit.,

p. 214.

35. Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal Societies,

supplementary submission, pp.6-7.

36. Amgarten and Mettler, op.cit., p.214.

37. Committee discussion with Professor Tauson, 14 May 1990.

38. Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal Societies,

supplementary submission, p. 7.

39. Committee discussion with Professor Tauson, 14 May 1990.

118

40. Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal Societies,

supplementary submission, p. 8.

41. Committee discussion with Professor Tauson, 14 May 1990.

42. Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal Societies,

supplementary submission, pp. 8-9.

43. ibid., pp. 8-9.

44. ibid., pp. 9-10.

45 . ibid., p. 12.

46. Amgarten and Mettler, op cit., p. 227.

47. ibid., pp. 215-216.

48. Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal Societies,

supplementary submission, p. 7.

49. Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, A Cost

Comparison of Commercial Egg Production Systems, HMSO,

London, 1980, p. 5.

50. ibid., pp. 5, 10.

51. Carnell, op.cit., pp. 21-31.

52. R.N. Macindoe, 'Alternative Systems for Housing Layers',

in P. Henry et. al. (eds.), Intensive Animal Welfare,

Australian Veterinary Association, Brisbane, 1987.

53. ibid., pp. 132-3.

54. Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal Societies,

supplementary submission, p. 10.

119

55. ibid., pp. 10-11.

56. Evidence, NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries,

p. S8173.

57. R. Ewbank, 'Animal Welfare', in Universities Federation

for Animal Welfare, Management and Welfare of Farm

Animals, Bailliere Tindall, London, 1988, p. 11.

120

CHAPTER 7

HUSBANDRY PRACTICES

7.1 Several husbandry practices in the poultry industry were the subject of concern during the inquiry. These practices

included beak trimming, induced moulting and the use of

artificial lighting cycles.

7.2 The practice of beak trimming has been criticised by

some welfare groups who see it as a distasteful mutilation which

is painful to the bird and may have adverse long-term effects.

Some methods of induced moulting have also been criticised as inimical to welfare, as have the use of artificial lighting

patterns to enhance production performance. Each of these issues

is discussed below.

Beak Trimming

7.3 Beak trimming refers to removal of part of the beak of

the chicken. Generally the portion of the beak removed varies,

ranging from one third of the upper mandible to the whole beak.·*·

The amount removed may also vary as between upper and lower

mandible, for example, two thirds upper, one third lower.

Research indicates that beaks continue to grow after trimming,

and by 65 weeks will be 12 per cent shorter than normal beaks.2

7.4 The Model Code of Practice for the Domestic Fowl

prescribes that not more than half of the upper beak and

one-third of the lower beak be removed, but the Committee

received evidence that there was considerable variability in the

results. Greater uniformity occurs overseas, possibly because it

is done before 12 weeks of age in some countries. Evidence

121

indicated that beak trimming in Australia is done from 18 to 22

weeks. Other evidence indicated that chickens are generally beak

trimmed in hatcheries at one day of age, or on the farm at 7-10

days of age.3 However, the evidence did not support a specific

time (age of chicken) being prescribed in the Code.*

7.5 According to the Australian Council of Egg Producers

(ACEP), beak trimming involves removal of the very tip of the

beak (usually the upper mandible). The procedure is extremely

quick, and is carried out using a hot blade.5 The most commonly

used method is to remove about one third of the upper beak and a

little of the lower beak, by electrocautery. An electrically

headed blade is used to simultaneously cut and sear the beak to prevent bleeding.6

7.6 The responses of birds to beak trimming varies according

to the age of the bird. Research has indicated that the earlier

in life birds are beak trimmed, the smaller their responses.

Research suggests that adult birds may suffer short term pain

and/or fear, reduced food intake for a period, and reduced body

weight but little effect on egg production. Most investigations

have not shown a significant effect on mortality.7

7.7 Beak trimming may be repeated later in the growing

period if necessary, usually to prevent or curb an outbreak of

cannibalism.®

Reasons for Beak Trimming

7.8 Beak trimming is used to prevent or eliminate

cannibalism, and pecking between birds (feather pecking); activities which can occur in all housing systems.®

7.9 The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) argued that

beak trimming is widely practiced by the industry to control

cannibalism, and is justified on welfare as well as economic

grounds. The AVA stated, however, that standards of practice could be improved by better staff training and less incentive for haste.18

122

7.10 Injury to birds occurs during normal social interaction between birds as they establish dominance (peck orders). Sick or

injured birds, and those with oviduct protrusion are also

attacked. Injuries, presumably, are painful and can result in

bleeding, infection, and carcass downgrading.H

7.11 Some strains tend to feather peck, which can lead to cannibalism. What triggers cannibalism is not fully understood,

although reduced lighting intensities do inhibit both activities.12

7.12 Certain strains of layers are prone to prolapse, and the

oviduct everts on laying. The oviduct is bright red which

encourages cannibalism. -*-3

7.13 The banning of beak trimming would lead to heavy

mortality in flocks (estimated at up to 30 per cent) and

extensive injuries would also increase.1*

Consequences of Beak Trimming

7.14 Evidence to the Committee indicated that beak trimming

does cause at least temporary pain. Evidence was given that the beaks of chickens are enervated.15 Research has identified some

of the types of nerve cells which, in other species, for example,

humans are sensitive to pain.16 Dr Kite told the Committee it was

possible chickens experience some pain as a result of beak

trimming, but the extent of the pain was difficult to quantify.I7

While it is difficult to quantify pain in humans, let alone in birds, research is being conducted to try to quantify the pain

experienced by chickens due to beak trimming.

7.15 The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) submitted

that beak trimming 'causes immediate pain and short-term discomfort' but is essential to minimise prolonged suffering due

to cannibalism.1® Observations of producers indicate that birds

are reluctant to peck at feed for perhaps a number of hours to a

day or two after beak trimming. Beyond that, from observation,

birds appear to behave normally.1®

123

7.16 Other evidence, from Mr Miller of the Victorian

Department of Agric u l t u r e and Rural Affairs, i n dicated that if

b eak trimming was done correctly, there did not a p p e a r to be any

lasting consequences for the b i r d .20

7.17 Beak t r i m m i n g at d ay old produces least fear and pain in

c h i c k e n s . Evidence from N SW Department of Agric u l t u r e and

Fisheries indicated that if carried out at under 10 days of age,

b eak trimming does not adversely affect feed intake, growth rate

or subsequent egg p r o d u c t i o n . 21

7.18 The l ong-term neurological consequences of b eak trimming

have been investigated at the Poultry Re s e a r c h Centre,

Midlothian, Scotland. The studies have found that b e a k trimming

d amaged the nerves of the beak for up to three millimetres from

the cut e n d . By six days, the d a m a g e d nerve had degenerated, but

by 10 days there was evidence of regrowth. By fifteen days a

n euroma was present at the end of the nerve stump. In some b i r d s ,

a large and complex neuroma formed adjacent to the scar tissue at

the end of the beak. The authors concluded that these findings

w ere consistent w i t h the formation of neuromas following

peripheral nerve damage in h u m a n s , rats and m i c e which are

implicated in post-amputation stump p a i n . 22

7.19 If beak trimming is done badly, it can cause the bird

problems. Dr Murphy, a poultry researcher, in evidence to the

Committee argued that it was essential to ensure 'that beak

trimming was always done by people who were properly trained'.23

7.20 The p r actice of beak t rimming also causes the bird some

stress. Actual handling of the bird is stressful; studies

indicate heart rate is elevated more, or as m u c h b y handling,

than the actual beak trimming.24 Gradual increase of the fear

response to being caught, handled, and beak trimmed occurs as the

birds age.2^

124

7.21 Research is being conducted into the stress effect of

beak trimming to establish the 'optimum' age to beak trim in

relation to stress and performance.26

7.22 Evidence to the Committee also indicated that beak

trimming reduces the bird's ability to preen itself and remove external parasites. In well-managed housing systems, however,

external parasites are normally kept under control.27

When Beak Trimming is Performed

7.23 Evidence submitted to the Committee indicated

considerable variation as to the age of chickens when beak

trimming is performed. The Committee saw trimming at eight days but were informed that usually it is done at about 15 days.28

7.24 Precision in performing beak trimming was of concern to

some witnesses, including Mr Macindoe of the NSW Department of

Agriculture and Fisheries, who argued that there was a need to improve the exactness and skill of operators.29

Alternatives to Beak Trimming

7.25 One alternative to beak trimming for mature birds is the

fitting of 'polypeepers'. These are small pieces of plastic which

clip onto a chicken's beak and obstruct forward vision preventing

direct focus, eye-to-eye contact, with other chickens; peripheral

vision is, however, unimpaired. The AVA argued that polypeepers

should be used with care as they can injure the nasal septum, get

caught in the cage and may make feeding, drinking and nesting more difficult.30 Polypeepers are seldom used in Australia.

7.26 The use of dietary supplements and drugs have been

successfully used overseas to reduce aggression in chickens and as an alternative to beak trimming, although this method has not

been used in Australia.31

125

7.27 The need for beak trimming may be reduced given the

change in the temperament of layer strains, with some modern strains being more docile.32 Encouragement of this development,

and an increasing trend towards controlled environment housing

was seen as reducing the incidence of cannibalism which in turn,

may reduce the need for beak trimming.33

7.28 Various witnesses supported the concept of genetic

selection for birds less prone to cannibalism which could also minimise the need for beak trimming.34 Control of light

intensities, with quite low light intensities, also appears to

reduce the incidence of cannibalism and hence the need for beak trimming.35 These alternatives, in themselves, raise concerns

regarding welfare: for example, continuous reduced lighting

arguably alters certain aspects of the birds' natural behaviours.

Standards of Practice

7.29 Evidence to the Committee indicated that it was

essential that beak trimming be carried out with precision by

experienced operators using proper equipment. The NSW Department

of Agriculture and Fisheries indicated that 80 per cent of beak

trimming is now performed by hatchery operators and professional contractors.36

7.30 The AVA submitted that staff training could be improved in this area.37 jn victoria, Mr Miller indicated that the

industry self-regulated, and operators who did not beak trim correctly were not re-employed.38 Currently, the training of new

operators is done by poultry companies or contractors.39 Most

beak trimmers employed by hatcheries are paid on a piece rate basis.

7.31 The AVA submitted to the Committee that formal training

and licensing of beak-trimmers may ensure a higher and more

consistent standard of practice.

126

Conclusion

7.32 The Committee does not oppose the practice of beak

trimming although it considers the procedure should be performed

at the optimum time to avoid stress to the bird. The Committee

supports research into temperament of layer strains, and the use of less invasive methods to control cannibalism. The Committee

believes that beak trimming should only be performed by competent

operators and recommends that more formal training and

supervision be introduced by the poultry industry for beak

trimmers so that improved standards of practice may be achieved.

Induced Moulting

7.33 Natural moulting occurs when birds are between 8-12

months of age.^1 Egg production ceases, and feathers are shed

before the birds build up body reserves in preparation for

another season of egg production.

7.34 In a natural environment, moulting occurs during autumn

and winter being induced by declining day length, reduced temperature and reduced feed availability. A moult can also occur

at other times as a natural response to stress.42

7.35 Moulting may be deliberately introduced in poultry as a

management technique. The reasons include:

• extension of the productive life of layers - a second

period of egg production can be gained from the flock

without the costs associated with buying and/or

rearing replacement birds;

• larger eggs are produced during the second laying

period; and

• egg quality may also be improved.*3

127

7.36 Other evidence indicated that egg production after a

moult is generally lower than in the first year of lay. Methods

used in induced moulting not only attempt to shorten the time of

the moult, but also to increase post-moult production.44

7.37 The economic success of induced moulting depends on how

quickly and uniformly the flock can be taken out of lay and

brought back into full production again.45

Procedures for Induced Moulting

7.38 There are various methods of inducing a moult in laying

hens. Such methods include turning off supplementary lights to

reduce day length, increasing shed ventilation to reduce

temperatures, and reducing food and water intake.46

7.39 Force moulting by the starvation method (depriving birds

of food and water for up to two weeks) is unacceptable to both

veterinary and animal welfare groups.47 The traditional method of

inducing a moult involves 'fasting' the birds by severely

restricting the food supply for a period of 6-10 days, although

water is provided at all times.48

7.40 The Committee considers deprivation of food and water an

unacceptable practice. The Committee notes that the matter is

addressed in the Code of Practice, which in relation to hens, states that water should not be withheld for more than 24 hours,

and food for no more than 48 hours.49

7.41 The Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal

Societies (ANZFAS) in its submission to the Committee was opposed to any method of induced moulting that involved the deprivation

of food and water. The Federation considered that other methods now being considered to replace the traditional ones should be

viewed with concern and referred to research into dietary levels

of specific nutrients on moulting and their adverse welfare effects.50

128

7.42 An alternative, and now recommended as preferred, method

of induced moulting being used successfully in Australia is

feeding whole barley ad libitum.51 Whole barley grain is used

without restriction of water or lighting. This is continued until

egg production ceases (usually within several days) when normal

feed is introduced.52 Once normal feed is re-introduced,

biochemical changes, including activity of the thyroid, triggers

the laying cycle. Barley may produce the same effect on the

endocrine system as fasting, while still allowing the birds to

feed.5®

7.43 The barley method has the potential to allow hens to be

kept on for two laying seasons and may not be experienced as

deprivation as the hens are still ingesting the same volume of

food.54

Welfare Effects of Induced Moulting

7.44 Little research has been done on the stress effects of induced moulting. While the practice causes some stress, albeit

shortlived, continuous egg production itself is stressful.55 As

previously noted, moulting occurs naturally in laying hens.

7.45 Various methods of inducing a moult by dietary

manipulation include calcium restriction, sodium restriction,

high iodine or high zinc in the diet. Some research has been done

into these methods, however, none are considered suitable for

commercial use.55

7.46 There is a need for further research into the stress and

welfare aspects of induced moulting, while continuing to seek

less stressful methods of inducing a moult.52

7.47 The Committee does not recommend prohibiting induced

moulting. To do so would result in birds being slaughtered and

replaced at the end of the first laying season.5®

129

7.48 The Committee believes that moult inducement is an

acceptable management practice provided it causes only minimal

stress to the hens. The Committee therefore recommends that only

humane methods of induced moulting be utilised and notes, with

approval, the preferred method of feeding barley ad libitum. The

Committee believes that moulting practices that deprive birds of

food or water for excessive periods cannot be justified on

welfare grounds and recommends that the starvation method of

induced moulting be prohibited.

Artifical Lighting Cycles

7.49 Light intensity and duration govern a number of

important physiological and behavioural functions of poultry, for

example, their activity, their feeding habits and their reproductive cycle. Under natural conditions, poultry are

normally active and feed during daylight hours, resting at night.

Hens are typically maintained on a constant lighting schedule of

16 hours light and 8 hours darkness.

7.50 Intensive housing systems commonly provide artificial

light so that the duration and intensity of light may be

controlled. Day length is controlled to bring breeding and

commercial egg producing poultry into lay and to maintain egg

production througout the year. Light intensity may be reduced to

minimise activity and thereby improve feed conversion efficiency.

7.51 Evidence to the Committee by the ACEP, AVA and AFWA

indicated that the lighting programs used by the commercial poultry industry do not adversely effect welfare.59

7.52 AFWA noted that:

There is no evidence that these practices, derived from scientific knowledge of poultry physiology and behaviour, are detrimental to the birds' welfare. On the contrary, the

improvements in egg production, growth and low mortality achieved are evidence of lack of stress in the flocks involved.60

130

7.53 The ACEP also noted that laying flocks are not routinely

kept under conditions of continuous light as this would actually

depress their productivity.61 in addition, AFWA noted that light

intensities may be reduced to effectively control feather pecking

and cannibalism.62

7.54 The Committee believes that, on the basis of the

evidence received, the lighting cycles currently employed by the

industry do not adversely affect the welfare of laying hens.

131

ENDNOTES

1. Evidence, Australian Federation for the Welfare of

Animals, p. S8942.

2. M.J. Gentle, 'Beak Trimming in Poultry', WPSA Journal,

Vol. 42, No. 3, October 1986.

3. Evidence, NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries,

p. S8178.

4. ibid., p. 8776 .

5. Evidence, Australian Council of Egg Producers, p. S8154.

6. Evidence, Australian Veterinary Association, p. S8777.

7. Evidence, Australian Federation for the Welfare of

Animals, p. S8942.

8. Evidence, NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries,

p. S8178.

9. Evidence, Australian Veterinary Association, p. S8777; and

NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, p. S8178.

10. Evidence, Australian Veterinary Association, p. 9349.

11. ibid., p. S8777 .

12. Evidence, Victorian Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, p. 9413; and NSW Department of Agriculture and

Fisheries, p. 8766.

13. Evidence, Australian Veterinary Association, p. 9354.

132

14. Evidence, NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries,

p. S8179 .

15. Evidence, Australian Council of Egg Producers, p. 8723.

16. Gentle, op. cit.

17. Evidence, Dr Kite, NSW Farmers Association, p. 8724.

18. Evidence, Australian Veterinary Association, p. S8766.

19. Evidence, Australian Veterinary Association, p. 9353.

20. Evidence, Mr Miller, Victorian Department of Agriculture

and Rural Affairs, p. 9412.

21. Evidence, NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, p.

S8178.

22. Letter to the Committee from the Australian Veterinary

Poultry Association, dated 27 September 1989.

23. Evidence, Dr Murphy, p. 9555.

24. Evidence, Australian Council of Egg Producers, p. 8724.

25. Evidence, NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries,

p. S8178.

26. ibid., p. S8179.

27. Evidence, Australian Federation for the Welfare of

Animals, p. 9529.

28. Evidence, Australian Council of Egg Producers, p. 8724.

29. Evidence, Mr Macindoe, NSW Department of Agriculture and

Fisheries, p. 8766.

133

30. Evidence, Australian Veterinary Association, p. S8778.

31. Evidence, NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries,

p. S8178.

32. Evidence, NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries,

p. 8766; and Victorian Department of Agriculture and Rural

Affairs, p. 9413.

33. Evidence, NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries,

p. 8766.

34. Evidence, NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries,

p. S8179; and Australian Veterinary Association, p. 9349.

35. Evidence, Australian Federation for the Welfare of

Animals, p. 9534; and NSW Department of Agriculture and

Fisheries, p. S8178.

36. Evidence, NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries,

p. S8178, p. S8766.

37. Evidence, Australian Veterinary Association, p. 9349.

38. Evidence, Mr Miller, Victorian Department of Agriculture

and Rural Affairs, p. 9413.

39. Evidence, Dr L. Murphy, p. 9549; and Australian Veterinary

Association, p. S8778.

40. Evidence, Australian Veterinary Association, p. S8778.

41. Evidence, Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal

Societies, p. S8839.

42. Evidence, Australian Veterinary Association, p. S8778.

134

43. Evidence, NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries,

p . S8181, Evidence, Australian Veterinary Association,

p. S8778 .

44. Evidence, Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal

Societies, p. S8839.

45. Evidence, Australian Veterinary Assocdiation, p. S8778.

46. Evidence, Australian Veterinary Association, p. S8778.

47. Evidence, Australian Veterinary Association, p. 9350,

p. S8767, p. S8779; and Australian and New Zealand

Federation of Animal Societies, p. S8834, p. S8837,

p. S8839 .

48. Evidence, NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries,

p. S8181.

49. Evidence, Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal

Societies, pp. S8839-8840.

50. Evidence, Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal

Societies, p. S8840.

51. Evidence, NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, p. S8181; Australian Veterinary Association, p. S8779, p. S8793; and Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal

Societies, p. S8840.

52. Evidence, Australian Veterinary Association, p. S8783.

53. Evidence, Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal

Societies, p. S8840.

54. ibid.

135

55. Evidence, NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries,

p. S8181.

56. Evidence, Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal

Societies, p. S8840; and NSW Department of Agriculture and

Fisheries, p. S8181.

57. Evidence, NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries,

p. S8182 .

58. ibid.

59. Evidence, Australian Council of Egg Producers, p. S8154;

Australian Federation for the Welfare of Animals,

p. S8942; and Australian V e t e r i n a r y Association, p. S8772.

60. Evidence, Australian Federation for the Welfare of

Animals, p. S8943.

61. Evidence, Australian Council of Egg Producers, p. S8154.

62. Evidence, A u stralian F e deration for the W e l f a r e of

Animals, p. S8942.

136

CHAPTER 8

HANDLING AND TRANSPORT

8.1 The handling and transport of poultry was also a major

area of concern during the inquiry. The Code of Practice for the

Road Transport of Livestock recognises the importance of proper

handling of poultry and emphasises the responsibilities of the owners and the drivers involved in the transportation process.1

The Committee believes it is important to encourage the efficient

and considerate treatment of fowls so that any stress or injury

associated with handling and transport is minimised.

8.2 The Code of Practice lays down special guidelines for

the transport of poultry. These guidelines provide that:

• the design, construction and state of repair of any

crate or container used to carry birds should allow

them to be put in, conveyed and taken out without

injury; • containers should be ventilated and deep enough

(about 25 cm) to allow all birds space to stand, move

and seek comfort, but prevent bruising during

transport;

• covers should be used to protect birds in crates from

wind and rain and from excessively hot or cold

conditions; and • birds should not be held in crates or containers for

longer than 24 hours unless they are provided with food and water.2

8.3 More than four million spent hens are transported and

slaughtered each year in New South Wales alone. These birds are

sometimes transported over distances of 800 kilometres or more.3

137

Handling Procedures

8.4 Started pullets and spent hens (those that have finished

their period of lay in the egg industry) are removed manually

from their cages, placed in crates and transported to the egg

farms or processing plants. While it is in the interest of

producers and processors to carry out this operation quickly and

with care in order to minimise mortality and/or carcass damage,

the AVA, Dr Murphy, a poultry researcher, and others noted that

transport problems still occur from time to time, particularly

between farm and processing plant. These problems include rough

handling when catching and unloading birds, poor maintenance or

stacking, overcrowding, delays during transport and unloading,

exposure to excessive heat or cold, loading and unloading birds

too hastily and the problem of birds escaping.4 The AVA also

noted that because of their low market value, spent hens are at

the greatest risk of poor handling during transport.5

8.5 Catching itself, the placing into crates and

transportation is a stressful experience for poultry. Because of

this the catching and transport needs to be carried out with full

consideration of the birds' welfare. Statistics show that about

one per cent of birds die before reaching the slaughter house

and, on average, four per cent of carcasses are bruised or have

other injuries.° The NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

argued that the management practices required to limit stress and

carcass damage are well understood and catching crews are

generally instructed and supervised to ensure that these

practices are followed, although the Committee believes there is

nevertheless a need for improvement.7

8.6 Dr Murphy, in evidence to the Committee, n oted that from

her experience of the industry there was a need for gentler

han d l i n g on some occasions.® The C o mmittee also re c e i v e d evidence

that those people involved in the transport of p o u l t r y need to be

m ade m o r e aware of the welfare requirements of the animals in

their care and, in particular, that they have a sufficient

138

understanding of their responsibilities under the relevant codes

of practice. The RSPCA proposed that a licensing system be

introduced for those involved in the transportation of animals

commercially and that the equipment used in the transport of

animals also be licensed.9

Transport of S pent Hens a nd Pullets

8.7 Other contributors to the inquiry noted the excessively

long distances involved in the transport of spent hens and

pullets. Mr Poole, of NSW Department of Agriculture and

Fisheries, told the Committee of the situation in New South Wales

where the processing plant capacity for spent hens has been significantly reduced. This necessitates spent hens having to be

transported long distances from farms in New South Wales to

Queensland. Mr Poole told the Committee of an instance where a

truckload of spent hens en route to Toowoomba broke down at night

and the hens were left on the truck. He noted:

The code of practice stipulates that they should not be transported without food or water for any time longer than, say, 24 hours. After that truck was broken down for somewhere

around 24 hours they were then transported to Toowoomba. ... By the time those birds were finished being processed it might have been another eight hours. So it is possible that

those birds were without food or water for in excess of 40 hours, which I do not believe to be acceptable.10

8.8 Mr Poole also recounted another incident involving the

transport of spent hens to Queensland. In that incident the

vehicle was stopped en route and it was found that some ten per

cent of the birds were dead due to overloading of the truck and

the transport of the birds in the heat of the day. Mr Poole noted

that the mortality rate would have been substantially higher by

the time the birds reached their destination and were processed

in Toowoomba.il The Committee believes that effective transport

back-up needs to be available to cope with these situations.

139

8.9 Mr Macindoe of NSW Department of Agriculture and

Fisheries told the Committee that the Department was concerned

'to the point where we should and do normally speak to the

operator concerned', due to instances of breaches of the Code of

Practice in the area of transport, although he added that most

were isolated cases often with 'extenuating circumstances'.*2

8.10 The Committee was particularly concerned with the

problems associated with the transportation of spent hens. The

Committee notes that this problem is further accentuated because

of their low market value. The Committee was also told that spent

hens are more likely to suffer fractures during handling and

transportation because of the brittleness of their bones.13

8.11 Another area of concern was the conditions under which

pullets are transported. Mr Poole told the Committee that:

It is known that pullets can travel across a State from another State, say from Victoria to Queensland, to satisfy a market. Once they are crated, it is near impossible to provide those birds with water; so again those birds, I suggest, would be without water during that period of transport.14

8.12 Mr Poole further noted that the problem was mainly with

the smaller pullet suppliers. He remarked:

There are several independent pullet

growers-suppliers in the State [NSW] and I have been informed verbally by those operators that it sometimes takes them well in excess of

24 hours, and maybe up to 40 hours, to get to the areas that they need to in order to drop off their small guantities of birds along the way.15

Mr Poole also argued that especially in hot weather and where

sufficient water was not provided situations such as these

constituted cruelty to the birds transported in this manner.16

140

8.13 The Committee believes that instances such as these

provide a clear case where the welfare of the birds are being

seriously compromised. Contraventions of the Code of Practice are

also involved in these cases where birds are being transported

for periods in excess of 24 hours without being provided with

food and water.

Conclusion

8.14 The Committee, on the basis of its own observations and

the evidence presented to it, was concerned about the conditions

under which some spent hens and pullets are transported.

8.15 The Committee's main areas of concern have been the

insufficient care taken during the handling and transportation

process and the often excessive distances involved in the

transport of poultry. The Committee believes that in many cases

the reasons for these deficiencies lay with the handlers and transport operators. The Committee therefore recommends that the

information contained in the Codes of Practice for road transport

of livestock be more widely disseminated by Government extension

services, poultry companies, transport operators and the

veterinary profession.

8.16 The Committee was also concerned that the conditions

under which poultry are sometimes transported involved breaches

of the Code of Practice. The Committee believes that sufficient

resources should be provided to ensure that the provisions of the Code are enforced and recommends that additional manpower

resources be provided to each State and Territory Department of

Agriculture to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Codes

of Practice for road transport of livestock.

141

ENDNOTES

1. Australian Bureau of Animal Health, Sub-Committee on

Animal Welfare, Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of

Animals: No. 3 - Road Transport of Livestock, Canberra,

1983.

2. ibid., p. 18.

3. Evidence, NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries,

p. S8185.

4. Evidence, Australian Veterinary Association, p. S8779; Dr L. Murphy, p. 9550.

5. Evidence, Australian Veterinary Association, p. S8779.

6. Evidence, NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries,

p. S8185.

7. Evidence, NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries,

p. S8185.

8. Evidence, Dr L. Murphy, p. 9550.

9. Evidence, Dr Wirth, RSPCA Australia, p. 9607.

10. Evidence, Mr Poole, NSW Department of Agriculture and

Fisheries, p. 8769.

11. Letter to the Committee from Mr G. Poole, NSW Department

of Agriculture and Fisheries, dated 31 October 1990.

12. Evidence, Mr Macindoe, NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, p. 8771.

142

13. Evidence,

p. 9363.

Mr Bell, Australian Veterinary Association,

14. Evidence, Fisheries

Mr G. Poole, NSW Department of Agriculture and

, p. 8769.

15. ibid., p. 8770.

16. ibid., p. 8771 .

143

CHAPTER 9

BROILER CHICKENS

9.1 Modern large-scale integrated broiler chicken production

had its beginning on the outskirts of Sydney in the 1950s. The

industry has grown significantly since then with very large increases in production controlled by relatively few commercial

enterprises.

9.2 Chicken meat (broiler) production is located relatively

close to areas of consumption. Besides the main areas around the

capital cities there is substantial broiler production around

Tamworth and Newcastle in New South Wales, Geelong in Victoria

and Murray Bridge in South Australia. Location is determined

mainly by the economics of transport in relation to markets, feed

and processing facilities.

9.3 Most commercial enterprises are intensive, highly

mechanised units which occupy relatively small areas compared to

conventional farming. Broilers are run at high density on litter

floors in houses ranging from open, naturally ventilated

structures in the warmer climates, to fully enclosed controlled

environment houses in colder climates.

9.4 The chicken meat industry provides a good example of

modern agribusiness. The chicken industry operates largely

through vertical integration with company ownership of breeding

farms, multiplication farms, hatcheries, feed mills, some broiler

growing farms and processing.

9.5 Two large companies - the Ingham Group of companies and

Australian Poultry Ltd. - are responsible for between 75 and 80

per cent of the meat chickens produced in Australia.1 A typical

farm would have 60 000 broiler chickens and produce 200 000 to

300 000 birds a year.2

145

9.6 A number of welfare issues involving the meat chicken

industry were raised during the inquiry. These included:

• aspects of the housing system, including stocking densities and the condition of the litter used in sheds;

• handling and transportation of broilers;

• processing operations; and

• health problems of broilers, including leg weakness and other deformities of the skeletal structure, respiratory disease and skin damage.

H o u s i n g Systems

9.7 More than 90 per cent of commercial meat chickens in

Australia are reared in large fully intensive deep litter houses

equipped with some degree of environmental control. The houses

also provide for automatic feeding, watering and lighting

systems.3

9.8 The sheds are either open sided or controlled

environment. With open sided sheds, heat is maintained during the

early growing phase by mechanical heaters, insulation and by side wall shutters or blinds. The sheds are naturally lit during

daylight hours, and through wired mesh sides, are open to the

environment. In controlled environment shedding, ventilation and

lighting are mechanically controlled. The Australian industry

houses about 60 per cent of its birds in open-sided sheds. In all

shed types, maximum use is made of equipment to maintain the

birds within the thermal comfort zone for their age. Such

equipment includes fans, foggers and roof sprinklers.

Additionally, sheds are insulated and often painted to assist in

temperature control.4

146

Stocking Densities

9.9 The maximum stocking density for broilers raised on deep

litter recommended by the Model Code of Practice for the Domestic

Fowl is 40 kilograms per square metre - this stocking density

relates to fully grown birds.5 Several contributors to the

inquiry argued that this stocking density was excessive, leads to

'crowding', and leaves little space for the chickens to dust

bathe and scratch in the litter.

9.10 ANZFAS in its submission argued that the maximum

stocking densities were inadequate. They pointed out that:

... if birds are of a marketable 2 kg weight, 20 birds may be kept per square metre. At this stocking density, each bird would have a space allowance of only 500 sq cm; an A4 page is

about 630 sq cm. Only when there are 16

chickens per square metre do they have the luxury of a space allowance equivalent to an A4 page! It should be noted that the minimum space allowance recommended by the Code is in

reality even lower than 500 sq cm because it includes the area occupied by feeding and watering equipment.6

9.11 ANZFAS recommended that the stocking density in sheds be

reduced to 0.28 square metre/2 kilograms, that is, no more than

four birds per square metre at market weight.7

9.12 Dr Fairbrother of the Australian Poultry Industries

Association (APIA), conceded that at a maximum density of 40

kilograms per square metre the birds 'are fairly close together,

even though they can still move around a shed'.8 Mr Bell of the

AVA also argued that stocking densities of broilers on deep

litter is an area that can be a problem especially as the birds

grow older and increase in size.

9.13 Mr Bell argued that:

As long as people do not exceed the

recommendations included in codes of practice then we believe that the welfare of the birds is reasonably well looked after. There is,

147

however, an economic incentive at times to increase stocking density and overcrowd the birds and from time to time you will get a

situation where processing is delayed and birds may grow on for another few days, and again overcrowding can occur.®

9.14 Dr F a irbrother of A P I A told the Committee that while:

Stocking densities are designed to provide adequate space for birds to move, but also for economic reasons it is necessary to consider overall shed size and numbers of birds in a batch. When we talk of density of, say, 40 kilos per square metre, as in the recommended code of practice, this is related to fully grown birds at the time of picking up. It is a maximum density and, of course, can be varied downward if environmental conditions warrant such a change.10

9.15 The tendency to overcrowd broiler chickens to increase

productivity, based on how much can be produced per square metre

of floor space, may need to be reconsidered in the light of

recent research findings. Studies have found that crowding

stress, due to high stocking densities, leads to a reduction in

body weight and an adverse affect on carcass quality.I 11

9.16 Another consequence of housing large numbers of birds

together is that the reactions of one or two birds can be

magnified abnormally to create mass hysteria in the broiler shed.

A sudden disturbance can create mass panic, leading to the

crushing or suffocation of many birds confined in a relatively

small area.12 However, Dr Murphy, a poultry researcher, indicated

to the Committee that she had seen little evidence of smothering.

She added:

I know it is something that is talked about a lot as a meat chicken thing to do, but I have never come across it or heard of it. I think I can honestly say that, and I work closely with meat chicken producers all the time.13

148

9.17 Some researchers have also suggested that in addition to

providing broiler chickens with more floor space a more varied

and stimulating environment should be provided. Perches may make

the birds less skittish, since birds that cannot get off the

ground to roost may be more nervous. This might also reduce the

incidence of breast blisters. Also, providing low upright floor

panels with specific marks at intervals may help the birds form smaller stable groups and have a sense of place. Such visual

'placers' could also help in moving chicks out to fill the shed

as they mature as chicks raised next to familiar objects will

tend to follow and stay close to these objects.14

9.18 The Committee received insufficient evidence to

determine whether the current stocking densities laid down in the

Code of Practice are adequate. The Committee was, however,

concerned that some crowding may occur in the period immediately

prior to the broiler chickens being transported to processing

plants. Accordingly, the Committee recommends that the maximum

stocking densities for broilers in sheds be set at a rate

consistent with the live-weight of the birds immediately prior to

processing to ensure that overcrowding does not occur.

9.19 The Committee also believes there is a need for regular

revisions of the stocking densities to take account of current

industry practices and developments in the understanding of

animal physiology and behaviour. The Committee therefore

recommends that the stocking densities for broiler chickens be

regularly reviewed by the Sub-Committee on Animal Welfare of the

Australian Health Committee within the Australian Agricultural

Council.

Litter flooring

9.20 Concern was raised during the inquiry regarding the

possibility of contamination of the litter in broiler sheds.

149

9.21 As the birds will eat some litter, the base material

must be free of contaminants that could be absorbed into the

edible tissues of the chicken. For the same reason, litter

materials should also be free of other substances - including

chemicals, disease organisms and moulds - that may damage the

birds' health. A number of materials are used as litter in sheds including wood shavings, sawdust, rice hulls or shredded paper.

The litter is usually spread to a depth of 2-8 cm over the earth

floor of the poultry house.

9.22 Dr Fairbrother of APIA informed the Committee that in

past years there had been a problem with contaminated sawdust or

wood shavings that was used as litter in some sheds.

9.23 Dr Ryan of APIA told the Committee that because of this their growers are not permitted to use wood shavings as litter

because of the risk of the wood having been treated with

pesticides.

9.24 In a publication of the NSW Department of Agriculture it

was stated that timber by-products are acceptable for use as

poultry litter only if they have come from untreated timbers. To avoid the risk of using contaminated by-products, some countries,

including France, United Kingdom and Denmark now produce a

softwood shaving specially for the intensive poultry industry.17

9.25 The litter used in broiler sheds needs to be absorbent,

soaking up moisture from body wastes, while providing a dry,

comfortable medium for the birds to dust themselves in and nest

upon. It therefore needs to be capable of drying quickly and be

soft and compressible, absorbent and buoyant. Rice hulls are

being increasingly used as litter. Their size, freedom from dust,

thermal conductivity, drying rate and compressibility make them a very suitable litter base. Performance trials conducted in 1970

by the University of Georgia showed rice hulls to be the best

litter for growing broilers. Composted litter, which may be

150

produced by composting old broiler litter, is also a good litter

material in all areas of the broiler shed except those used for

brooding baby chickens, where complete freedom from ammonia is

required.

Alternative Housing Systems

9.26 The Committee also examined the alternative housing systems to deep litter housing including cage-rearing and

free-range systems.

9.27 Each of these systems have a number of advantages and

disadvantages. The NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

noted that meat chickens can be reared successfully in cages and

this is now common in some parts of Europe and the Middle East. These systems are labour efficient; reduce the cost per bird of

controlling the environment; eliminate the need for some preventative medication; reduce the incidence of groundborne

diseases; and make harvesting easier and less stressful for the

birds. However the system is costly to install and may be opposed

by some consumers. For these reasons they have not been

introduced to any extent in Australia to date.1®

9.28 The Committee does not favour this method of rearing

broilers. It has argued extensively in relation to cage rearing

of layers that these systems have undesirable welfare aspects.

Studies of cage-rearing systems in the United States have confirmed this. In studies of cage-reared and floor-reared

broilers, researchers have found a greater incidence of breast

blisters and weak or deformed legs and bone breakage in

caged-reared birds.20

9.29 Meat chickens are also reared on free-range in Australia

but only on a small scale to meet a specialised niche in the market. The NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries argued

that because of the areas of land involved and the need to

regulate the environment of the chicken during its first three or

four weeks of life, it is not feasible to rear large numbers of

meat chickens on free range.

151

9.30 The current market demand for free-range chickens is

also very small (less than 0.1 per cent) although the demand is

increasing. Some small grower/processors are able to fill this

niche in the market and obtain a premium sufficient to cover

their extra production costs of between 50 cents to $1.00 per

chicken.21

9.31 As the meat chicken industry is almost totally dependent

on large scale, specialised, intensive methods of production the

NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries argued that there was

no viable alternative to the deep litter system except cage

rearing.22

H a n d l i n g and Transportation

9.32 Concern was also raised during the inquiry at the

processes involved in the handling or 'picking up' of chickens

and their transportation from the farm to the processing plant.

9.33 This operation needs to be done quickly and gently as

rough handling of the birds is not only detrimental to their

welfare and may cause considerable stress, but can also result in

bruising. Bruised birds mean a downgrading of the product at the

plant and can result in considerable financial loss for the

processor.

Pi c k i n g up Chickens

9.34 'Picking-up' of chickens usually takes place at night

when the birds are relatively inactive and the temperatures

cooler. This also helps reduce any stress on the birds. The birds

are picked up by the legs and placed into crates which vary in

size and material of construction. Although wire crates are still

relatively common in Queensland, the majority of crates in use in

Australia are a standard plastic crate specially produced in

Australia for the local industry.

152

9.35 The Australian crates were designed so that they could

be easily cleaned, ensure an adequate airflow and minimise any physical damage to the bird. Recently, the traditional coops have

been replaced by crate modules handled by forklift trucks,

resulting in considerable labour saving with less handling of the birds. Dr Fairbrother, however, acknowledged that there have been

some problems with the crates recently with the birds' toes and

feet being severed in some instances and abraded in other cases,

although he said that the industry was now addressing the problem.23

9.36 Alternative catching systems have also been examined by the industry. One system uses large plastic or metal crates which

can hold about 25 chickens.

9.37 The latest in catching and pick-up equipment is the

Tamdev 2000 automatic bird catcher from Northern Ireland. The machine resembles a combine harvester and operates by gathering

the chickens from the shed floor and conveying them into

transport modules.24

9.38 The equipment has been shown to reduce downgrading to

almost zero because chickens are not physically handled until they reach the processing plant. The equipment won a special

welfare award in the United Kingdom in 1986.

9.39 Trials have been conducted in Australia since 1986 using

this unit, and although the unit is performing satisfactorily in

some situations, it is not used extensively by the industry. The company (Australian Poultry Ltd. in Queensland) that purchased

the original machine has not purchased another.25 one reason is

that the equipment entails a large capital expense - each machine

costing between $250 000 and $300 000. There are variations being

developed on this machine in Europe and the United Kingdom and

the industry is monitoring these developments.26

153

9.40 NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries argued that

the trend towards automatic or semi-automatic systems of

harvesting chickens was desirable.27 The Committee believes that

such systems have many welfare benefits and encourages their

further development.

Transportation

9.41 Unlike some other livestock industries, broiler chickens

are not transported extremely long distances. Processing plants

and farms have generally been located to keep the maximum

distance birds have to be transported to between 50-100

kilometres from the processing plants.28

9.42 The APIA argued that when transporting poultry every

effort is made to protect the birds from excessively hot or cold

conditions. This is achieved by the use of tarpaulins and a solid

'windbreak' at the rear of the truck's cabin. Birds are not

transported when the temperature exceeds 40 degrees Celsius.29

9.43 However, the Committee received some evidence that there

have been cases where broilers being transported to the processing plants have travelled in open trucks and sometimes are

not adequately protected from the elements. Mr Miller of the

Victorian Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs told the

Committee that where this had been brought to the Department's

notice s

... appropriate veterinary officers have spoken to the companies that have been

concerned. Also, I think there has been a program particularly to the major chicken meat companies, to make sure that their drivers are aware that when external temperature

conditions are adverse they should properly tarp the vehicles. Going back a couple of years, I think the Department's attention was drawn to the fact that there were birds

escaping from processing crates - this is broiler chickens and not laying hens - going to the processing works. Veterinary officers went and spoke to the companies at that time.

Now I think the practice is to net vehicles to ensure that escapes do hot occur.30

154

9.44 The Committee was concerned with the problem of trucks

breaking down on the way to processing plants. Dr Best of APIA,

however, told the Committee that there were few instances of breakdowns.31 The Committee was also advised by Dr Kite that the

larger companies, and many smaller companies, have the use of two-way radios when this occurs.32

Processing of Broilers

9.45 When poultry are unloaded from crates used for their

transportation, they are hung on shackles which convey them to an electrical stunner - a water bath through which passes an

electrical current. The stunned birds then pass through an

automatic killing machine that cuts the bird's jugular vein. Between the automatic killing machine and the scalding tank there

is a worker stationed as a back-up killer to bleed-out any bird

that may not have passed through the automatic system.

9.46 Welfare considerations are important in all these

procedures. The birds must be handled carefully during uncrating

and shackling. The stunning equipment and settings must be

regularly checked and correctly operated to ensure that all birds

are unconscious before slaughter. The Committee observed these

operations at a processing plant in Sydney and was impressed by

the efficient handling of the birds prior to slaughter and the

manner in which the stunning and slaughtering operations were

performed.

9.47 The Committee questioned the industry representatives as

to most effective methods of slaughter. The APIA told the Committee that the electric stunner and automatic killer were the

most humane method yet devised for the slaughter of poultry and that this method was both quick and efficient.33 The Committee

was told that in plants operated by integrated companies,

commercial broiler chickens were all stunned before being

155

killed.34 Mr Miller, of the Victorian Department of Agriculture

and Rural Affairs, told the Committee that on the basis of his

experience broilers were correctly stunned before death. He

stated that:

Certainly w i t h the most m o d e r n plants it is

virtually impossible for the birds not to be stunned before they have their throats cut.35

9.48 While the Committee, during its inspection of the

processing plant in Sydney, did not observe any birds that had

missed the stunner, it did receive evidence from Mr Bell of the

AVA that this did occur from time to time.36 a s the Model Code of

Practice for Livestock and Poultry at Slaughtering Establishments

notes, ineffective stunning may occur for a number of reasons,

such as:

• the voltage of the stunner is set too low;

• incorrect immersion of the bird in the water bath so that the current does not pass through the brain;

• failure of the stunner to operate at full efficiency or inefficient earthing of the shackle line;

• variations in the current;

• failure to adjust the height of the water bath to the size of bird being stunned;

• variation in the susceptibility of birds to electric shock;

• low frequency pulses;

• movement of the bird when entering the stunner so that it escapes contact with the water or does not make proper contact with it.37

9.49 ANZFAS and others argued that the voltage of the stunner

should be raised to a level where all the birds are killed to

relieve any pain involved as raising the voltage in the water to

a level that will kill some birds ensures the effective stunning

of all birds. Dr Best of APIA however, explained to the Committee

that research carried out on the practice of stunning birds to

ensure they are killed indicated that they do not bleed as well.

It was important in the final product that the birds, in a

stunned state, bleed-out before they die.38

156

9.50 Dr Gilchrist of the AVA also told the Committee that a

number of smaller plants do not stun birds prior to slaughter. In some of these plants the birds are decapitated.39 The Code of

Practice notes that stunning is not necessary if poultry are killed by this method.^0

9.51 The Committee was concerned about the length of time it

takes before death occurs after slaughter without stunning. Although it is difficult to determine when an animal becomes

unconscious (that is, insensible to pain or other external

stimuli), a number of studies have examined this guestion.

9.52 One study by Mr Carter of the CSIRO Division of Animal

Health has examined slaughtering technigues in a number of animal

species. His studies reveal that, immediately following slaughter

of a conscious animal (by severing blood vessels in the neck or by decapitation), the animal remains aware of its surroundings

and sensible to pain for at least 15 seconds.*3

9.53 Dr Griffiths of the Animal Health Laboratory, Western Australian Department of Agriculture, has also conducted several

studies on the effects of different stunning and slaughter procedures on chickens. From his observations, chickens remain

conscious for 30-45 seconds after slaughter without stunning.

Thereafter, cardiac arrythmias start to occur and unconsciousness

ensues due to loss of blood pressure to the brain. Death occurs

due to circulatory collapse and cardiac arrest within 45-90 seconds.^2

9.54 The Australian Veterinary Poultry Association advised

the Committee that on the basis of current research:

... following slaughter without stunning, chickens probably remain conscious for a variable period of up to one minute. In

contrast, stunning results in a sharp and immediate decrease in brain activity, heart rate, respiratory rate and response to painful stimuli consistent with unconsciousness.43

157

9.55 The Association noted that stunning prior to slaughter

was clearly a more humane practice and endorsed effective

stunning to render birds unconscious prior to slaughter.*4 The

Committee concurs with these sentiments. The Committee considered

whether the guidelines on the slaughter of poultry contained in

the Code of Practice were satisfactory. On the basis of the

evidence received, the Committee believes that they are, and that

they should be followed by all poultry processors.

9.56 The Committee believes that all slaughtering practices

should ensure a humane death and that as to the methods of

slaughter, other than by decapitation, the Committee recommends

that in all instances broiler chickens be stunned prior to

slaughter in accordance with the guidelines laid down in the

Codes of Practice for poultry at slaughtering establishments. The

Committee further recommends that research be conducted into

effective means of stunning in an effort to overcome the problems

associated with the current methods.

Health Problems

9.57 A number of health problems associated with broiler

chickens were identified during the course of the inquiry. These

related to leg weakness and skeletal developmental problems,

respiratory disease and various skin problems.

Leg Weakness

9.58 Leg weakness and related deformities of the skeletal

structure was cited by a number of organisations and individuals

who gave evidence to the Committee, including ANZFAS and Mr Roth

of the NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries as a serious

health problem in meat chickens. Mr Roth argued that it was a

'significant' problem and that 'every shed loses some birds from leg weakness'.45

158

9.59 ANZFAS cited evidence that indicated that leg weakness and other deformities of the skeletal system were major causes of

culling among meat chickens in Australia.*6 ANZFAS reported a

study of 64 000 chickens in Western Australia which showed that

24 per cent of all deaths/culls were due to such problems.47 A major cause of leg abnormalities has been identified as genetic

and another cause has been recognised as the unnaturally fast

rate of growth of broiler chickens which effect leg strength and

formation.

9.60 ANZFAS cited several studies showing that few leg

abnormalities occur when the growth rate of chickens is significantly slowed.^8 A number of studies have also

investigated the effects of lighting on the activity of chickens

and the incidence of leg abnormalities. Under intermittent

lighting, chickens were found to be more active and had few leg

abnormalities than chickens kept under continuous lighting. This

pointed to the fact that lack of exercise has an important

bearing on the problem.

9.61 However, not all the evidence received by the Committee

supported the view that leg weakness and related problems were a

serious problem. Dr Sheldon of the CSIRO argued that while leg

weakness and other deformities were very common in the early days

of the meat chicken industry there was a much lower incidence now

due to genetic selection against the tendency.^9

9.62 The Committee notes that the APIA is conducting a

research project into the problem of leg weakness at the

University of Sydney and is sponsoring a project in Victoria with

the Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.50 The Committee

supports these projects and encourages further research into the

problem of leg weakness which it believes poses a significant

health problem.

159

Respiratory Disease

9.63 Respiratory disease in broiler chickens has also been

identified by ANZFAS and other welfare groups as a major problem.

With large numbers of birds in an enclosed shed standing on the

same litter for seven weeks, the quality of the air becomes a

major problem especially with the decomposition of litter and a

build up of faeces. This results in high levels of ammonia, dust

and micro-organisms in the air.51

9.64 ANZFAS cited several studies that showed that both a

build-up of ammonia and dust can have a damaging effect on the

lungs of chickens. Although affected chickens may not show

obvious signs of ill-health, they are likely to have increased

susceptibility to disease and signs of lesions and infection on

examination of the lungs.52 While improved insulation and

ventilation design, plus better monitoring of moisture and

ammonia levels, has improved the situation to some extent,

respiratory disease still remains a problem for the industry.

Skin Damage

9.65 Skin damage was also cited as a significant health

problem by ANZFAS. Given that litter in sheds deteriorates during

the life of the chickens due to the accumulation and

decomposition of faeces, broilers in contact with this litter may

suffer various forms of skin damage. Initially, the foot pads may

show signs of lesions or even ulceration and since chickens tend

to spend more time sitting on the litter as they grow older,

other parts of the body in contact with the litter, such as the

breasts and the hocks, can develop blisters or burns.

9.66 Studies have indicated that the incidence of breast

blisters in broilers is affected by age and body weight, stocking

density, litter condition and sex - males, which have a slower rate of feathering are more frequently affected than females.53

160

ANZFAS cited several studies to show that because the quality of

litter in sheds is difficult to maintain, the feet, hocks and

breasts of broilers are vulnerable to injury by contact with the

litter, especially as the birds become less active.54

9.67 In conclusion, the Committee notes with concern that

broiler chickens are subject to several health and disease

problems. The Committee notes that almost half of the research

expenditure of the Chicken Meat Research Council in 1988-89 was

devoted to research into improving the health status of broiler chickens.55 The Committee encourages this research and believes

further research should be undertaken into the health problems

associated with broiler chicken production.

161

ENDNOTES

1. Evidence, Australian Poultry Industries Association,

p. 8737.

2. National Farmers' Federation, Australian Agriculture,

Vol. 2: 1989-90, NFF, 1989, p. 159.

3. Evidence, NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries,

p. S8175.

4. Evidence, Australian Poultry Industries Association,

pp. S8161-2.

5. ibid., p. 8748.

6. Evidence, Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal

Societies, p. S8884.

7. ibid., p. S8883.

8. Evidence, Australian Poultry Industries Association,

p. 8748.

9. Evidence, Mr Bell, Australian Veterinary Association,

p. 9365.

10. Evidence, Dr Fairbrother, Australian Poultry Industries

Association, p. 8735. 1 1

11. One study reported the results of raising broilers at

stocking densities of 929, 743, 557 and 372 square centimetres of floorspace per bird, respectively. The

study found a significant linear reduction in body weight

and an adverse effect on carcass quality at the higher

stocking densities. See M.W. Fox, Farm Animals, University

Park Press, Baltimore, 1984, p. 32.

162

12. ibid., p. 33.

13. Evidence, Dr Murphy, p. 9556.

14. Fox, op. cit., p. 33.

15. Evidence, Dr Fairbrother, Australian Poultry Industries

Association, p. 8754.

16. Evidence, Dr Ryan, Australian Poultry Industries

Association, p. 8754.

17. NSW Department of Agriculture, Alternative Litter

Materials for Poultry, Aqfact A5.1.9, 1987.

18. ibid., p . 3.

19 . Evidence, NSW Department of Agriculture and p. S8176.

Fisheries,

O CM Fox, op. cit., p. 32.

21. Evidence, NSW Department of Agriculture and p. S8175; and Australian Poultry Industries

p. 8739.

Fisheries,

Association

22. Evidence, NSW Department of Agriculture and

p. S8176.

Fisheries,

23. Evidence, Dr Fairbrother, Australian Poultry Industries Association, p. 8757.

24. Evidence, Australian Poultry Industries Association,

p. S8165.

25. ibid., p. 8735.

26. ibid., p. 8756.

163

Evidence, NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries,

p. 8767.

Evidence, Australian Poultry Industries Association,

p. S8166; and NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries,

p. 8769.

Evidence, Australian Poultry Industries Association,

p. S8166.

Evidence, Mr Miller, Victorian Department of Agriculture

and Rural Affairs, pp. 9411-9412.

Evidence, Dr Best, Australian Poultry Industries

Association, p. 8758.

Information provided to the Committee by Dr Kite,

Australian Poultry Industries Association, 7 June 1990.

Evidence, Australian Poultry Industries Association,

pp. S8166-7.

Evidence, Mr Bell, Australian Veterinary Association,

p. 9371.

Evidence, Mr Miller, Victorian Department of Agriculture

and Rural Affairs, p. 9411.

Evidence, Mr Bell, Australian Veterinary Association,

p. 9372.

Australian Agricultural Council, Sub-Committee on Animal

Welfare, Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of

Animals, No. 6 - Livestock and Poultry at Slaughtering

Establishments, February 1987, pp. 14-15.

Evidence, Dr Best, Australian Poultry Industries

Association, pp. 8759-61.

39. Evidence, Dr Gilchrist, Australian Veterinary Association,

p. 9372.

40. Model Code of Practice, No. 6 (see footnote 37), p . 15.

41. Letter to the Committee from the Australian Veterinary Poultry Association, dated 27 September 1989, p. 2.

42. ibid.

43. ibid., p. 2.

44. ibid., p. 3.

45. Evidence, Mr Roth, NSW Department of Agriculture and

Fisheries, p. 8791.

46. Evidence, Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal

Societies, p. S8892.

47. ibid., pp. S8893-8894.

48. ibid., p. S8895.

49. Evidence, Dr Sheldon, Australian Federation for the

Welfare of Animals, p. 9530.

50. Evidence, Australian Poultry Industries Association,

p. 8751.

51. Evidence, Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal

Societies, p. S8889. The Committee notes that ANZFAS

recommends that layers have access to litter and therefore

would presumably be subject to the same health problems

identified by ANZFAS as detrimental to broiler chickens.

See evidence, ANZFAS, p. S8834.

52. ibid., p. S8891.

165

53. Fox, op. cit., p. 32.

54. Evidence, Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal

Societies, p. S8892.

55. Chicken Meat Research Council, Annual Report 1988-89,

AGPS, Canberra, 1989, p. 7.

166

PART THREE

PIGS

CHAPTER 10

PIGS AND THE AUSTRALIAN PIG INDUSTRY

Introduction

10.1 The pig is a monogastric omnivorous mammal which

resembles man in its nutritional reguirements, there being many

similarities between the anatomy and physiology of the digestive

systems of the two species. To satisfy both the nutritional needs

of the animal and the desire of the producer to offer feeds of

acceptable cost in relation to the level of production demanded

reguires the manipulation of a range of feedstuffs.1

10.2 In the wild pigs feed on a wide range of plants, small

animals and insects. Rations fed to domestic and especially

intensively housed pigs are usually a mixture of feedstuffs,

combined to provide the pig's requirements of energy, fibre

(roughage), protein, vitamins and minerals. Cereals usually

provide most of the energy, and about half the protein, while

additional protein must be supplied from high-protein sources

such as meat or fish products, or legumes.2

10.3 Pigs have poor eyesight, but highly developed senses of

smell, taste and touch. The tactile, highly sensitive snout is

essential for rooting behaviour. Outdoor pigs maintain this

habit, and it is common practice to ring the upper edge of the

snout so as to limit the damage done by rooting. The pattern is maintained in intensively housed pigs, which will persist in nosing the surface of concrete pens. Outdoor pigs can spend many

hours per day exploring their environment, food-seeking and

eating. Unchecked they will despoil crops and grass paddocks in

their soil-turning search for food. Indoor pigs spend a

relatively short time eating and have little opportunity for

exploratory behaviour.3

169

10.4 The argument advanced by those opposing intensive

housing of pigs is that pigs have a complex repetoire of

behaviour much of which is prevented by intensive farming. They

refute the claim that the modern pig no longer has the same

instincts as its ancestors due to domestication and genetic

changes.*

10.5 The Australian Federation for the Welfare of Animals

(AFWA) contends that all forms of life adapt to their

environment. This happens because each individual animal changes

its behaviour to avoid noxious stimuli. If this is insufficient,

physiological changes (e.g. altered hormone levels and other coping mechanisms) come into play. All such changes impose some

metabolic cost on the animal, yet it may cope successfully with

the environment. To the extent that coping is unsuccessful, the

animal's health and production characters such as growth and

particularly reproduction will suffer. This means that farmers

have a commercial interest in keeping animals in environments in

which they cope well. Furthermore, in those environments in which animals cannot cope some will die while others have low

reproduction. This triggers the process of genetic adaptation

which is the basis of evolution. In every environment, in time, the animals that predominate will be those whose genes allow them

to cope best, expressed by giving these animals the highest

overall reproduction (the technical term is reproductive fitness)

possible in the environment.5

10.6 AFWA argues that it follows that animals that do not

show evidence of impaired health such as wounds, or other

clinical signs, and which are reproducing well, are unlikely to be suffering, even if their environment is different from what

our prejudices suggest that it should be. Small spaces are not a

problem if animals are well adapted to small spaces. (Our

internal parasites do not suffer by being confined inside us) .

Welfare problems typically arise where animals adapted to one

kind of environment are displaced to a different kind of

170

environment as is likely to be the case for animals captured in

the wild and brought to old-fashioned accommodation in zoos.

Animals may find it difficult to adapt to a continually changing

environment, and thus their welfare cannot be guaranteed.6

Pig Breeds in Australia

10.7 The efficient production of lean meat is a major

objective of pig breeders and producers. Both production traits

can influence 'meatiness'. Production traits include growth rate,

feed conversion efficiency and carcass quality. Reproduction

traits are conception rate, litter size, piglet survival and

piglet growth.^

10.8 Pigs of an unspecified breed were brought to Australia

by the First Fleet. In the 1820s pedigreed pigs were imported

from England, but it was not until 1911 that the first Australian Stud Pig Herd Book was published. Their names reflect the English

origin of most Australian breeds of pigs: Berkshire, Tamworth,

Wessex Saddleback, and Large White. Landrace, a Danish breed, is

a more recent introduction. This breed, white like the Large White, quickly gained popularity because bacon factories prefer

white-haired pig carcasses and also because of the breed's

superior efficiency in converting feed to meat. These two breeds

are now the most numerous.

10.9 Commercial pig-raisers generally cross the breeds to

obtain hybrid vigour for quicker growth. From the early 1980s,

with quarantine clearances being given for the import of boars

and pig semen from Northern Ireland, New Zealand, and Canada, the

Hampshire, Yorkshire, and Duroc breeds have been imported, and

can be expected to play an increasing role in cross-breeding

programmes.®

171

10.10 Black skinned pigs such as the Berkshire thrived under

Australian conditions when pigs were run extensively. However

with the introduction of intensive housing the Berkshire declined

in importance because of its inability to grow more quickly under

these conditions. With the advent of the intensive housing system

in Australia the Landrace, a white skinned pig first introduced

into Australia in 1958, became very popular in cross breeding

programs with the large white breed.9

10.11 The Large White and Landrace breeds are now the most

popular breeds in Australia with most intensively housed herds

containing a large proportion of Large White blood. The most

popular cross is that between a Large White and a Landrace, (both

white skinned pigs) as the maternal line in commercial herds. A

third breed such as a Duroc or Hampshire - a red skinned pig is

used as the terminal sire.

Adaptation to Modern Husbandry Systems

10.12 The general view in the industry is that pigs have

adapted to modern methods. Over the 30 year period that intensive

production has been operating culling and selective breeding have

removed those not able to adapt and do well. Pigs have virtually

adapted to the situation.H Summarising this point, and

production advances, Dr Blackshaw representing the Australian Pig

Industry Policy Council, stated in evidence:

There are various ways we have done this. First of all, there is our nutrition

requirement. There has been a lot of research in the past years on pig nutrition. We have raised our levels of requirements. We know

exactly what pigs need at each of their

stages, whether they are a lactating sow, a growing pig or even a little piglet. We know the sorts of things they need so our responses in the nutritional area have improved greatly. Secondly, we have very good breeding programs, and we have selected over the last 20 years domestic pigs which do extremely well in our

situations. We have chosen pigs - and you noticed them yesterday - that look healthy and

172

do very well in the situations we now have for them. That has been extremely important in the Australian industry. We are continually looking at bringing in new genetic material to

improve our pig production. Probably a very important thing we have done is to look at the areas of animal behaviour. This has become an important area of research. It is very

integrally mixed with the physiology of the animal. We have been looking at the physiology of the animal and the animal behaviour

measures of our animals and we understand more and more their behavioural needs so that we can design piggeries to fit in with those needs.12

10.13 Pigs are considered to be highly intelligent animals

with a capacity, as humans do, to adapt to situations that might

otherwise be called stressful in terms of human assessment.H

They are social animals and, like other animals, have complex

behavioural repetoire to meet the demands of their environment.

In their natural conditions their responses are complex, variable

and goal corrected.1*

The Behaviour of Free Ranging Pigs

10.14 The arguments for close confinement in intensive systems

are largely based on the natural behaviour of pigs - that is

aggression and bullying causing unacceptable stress to the

animals.

10.15 ANZFAS refutes this, citing research evidence in its

discussion of the behaviour of free ranging pigs. ANZFAS cites

studies in support of its view that not only do pigs suffer in

intensive systems but many of the problems for management of the

systems are due to the fact that they are confronted with

insoluble or nearly insoluble problems or with situations having

unpredictable outcomes.15

10.16 Evidence based on a study in Scotland where the

behaviour of commercially bred pigs were released into a

semi-natural enclosure and observed for several years by

researchers at Edinburgh University has been presented to

highlight ANZFAS' thesis:

173

• that there is no significant difference between the

behaviour of commercially bred pigs and observations that have been made of wild feral pigs 16.

• the fact that confined animals do not show certain

behaviours because the system prevents them from

doing so does not mean that they do not have the

instincts to perform these behaviours17; and

• intensive systems do not allow sufficient space for

interactions generally and for the regulation of

aggression through avoidance behaviour.

10.17 ANZFAS believes that the scientific evidence provided by

Wood-Gush and others refutes the genetic evolution and animal

adaptive arguments presented by proponents of intensive farming

and argues that any consideration of welfare of pigs in

confinement systems must acknowledge that:

1) Free ranging pigs are active animals. They spend a

lot of time rooting, they collect material for the communal nest, and they move from nesting and feeding

sites for dunging.

2) Pigs are social animals. They live in small, stable

groups with strong bonds between individuals. In such

groups sequences of behaviour have evolved to limit

aggressive encounters.

3) Pregnant sows have a strong nesting instinct. They

become extremely active prior to farrowing, when they

seek an isolated and sheltered nesting site and

collect material for a nest.1^

10.18 Dr Judith Blackshaw stated in evidence that aggression

occurs in any group of pigs whether they are in or out of a shed.

A lot of aggression occurs during feeding time. Feeding stalls

cuts this down although unless they are individual or isolated

they will still bite each other, especially on the vulvas.

174

10.19 She argued that:

... if pigs are in an intensive piggery,

properly husbanded, someone looking after them properly, you have much more chance of making sure their welfare is optimum than if you have them running out in a paddock. Inside the shed

you can keep an eye on them; you can keep an eye on their aggressive tendencies towards each other. You do not have the problem of worms - external and internal parasites - that you have in a paddock, and you can

individually feed them to their requirements, which you cannot do in a paddock. If you have a sow that for some reason is slightly thin you can give her a little more food if she is

in her individual little area. You can examine them every morning and every evening more easily - by just walking behind them you can check that their vulvas are clean and that they are not up to parturition, not up to

having their young. In a paddock it is

extremely difficult to check the animals individually.20

Trend to Specialisation

10.20 All schemes for growing pigs aim to produce a lean

carcass as efficiently as possible. Although the methods used

depend on the resources available, they now usually involve

housing with some level of environmental control, together with

the opportunity to manipulate feed intake.

10.21 There are currently some 8,000 commercial pig producers

operating in Australia. In March 1988 there were some 2.7 million

pigs of which approximately 350,000 were breeding sows. It is

estimated that of these production units less than 1 per cent

produce approximately 45 per cent of all pigs.21

10.22 Table 10.1 provides details of pig numbers by State over

a six year period to 1987.

175

Table 10.1: Pig Numbers ( Ό 0 0 )

31 March NSW Vic QLD SA WA Tas

Aust. (incl. NT ACT)

1983 794 387 551 405 300 51 2,490

1984 799 404 556 417 300 48 2,527

1985 814 410 563 402 274 47 2,512

1986 798 432 585 414 278 45 2,553

1987 830 432 579 422 295 46 2,611

1988 853 437 617 441 307 48 2,706

1989 855 423 611 450 285 45 2,671

SOURCE: ABS Year Book Australia 1989, p.424.

10.23 In 1949, when pig raising was primarily a secondary consideration for dairy farmers, there were some 59,500 holdings

producing pigs. Over 65 per cent of these ran 20 pigs or less and

there were only 60 holdings with over 500 pigs.2-2

10.24 The Australian pig industry prior to 1960, 'developed as

a sideline to the primary dairy and cereal growing industries.

The enterprises were small (dairy herds were small), and where

there was dependence on availability of spoiled grain, production

fluctuated wildly, both as to quantity and quality.

10.25 1960 was a watershed year for the industry. The

technology necessary for commercial viability of intensive

production was available. The rapidly expanding Australian

population with increasing diversity of ethnic origins, meant

that demand for pork increased rapidly. The dairy industry was

evolving away from butter production (with available separated milk) to whole milk, so that pig production had to be based on

cereal diets.24

176

10.26 Systematic production technology was pioneered by

workers such as D.M. Smith, D.P. Henry, and J.M. Holder and

large-scale production units began to be established from 1962-63

onwards. Economies of scale were established in units of at least 300 sows and progeny. Further, corporate enterprises, who wished

to integrate either their commercial stock feed or meat

processing units with pig production units to stabilise both

quantity and quality of supply, entered the business. These

forces ensured that:

• the numbers of farms (farmers) producing pigs

declined; • the units producing pigs became larger.25

10.27 There are no official statistics available for the

proportion of pigs produced annually in Australia from intensive, semi-extensive or extensive production systems.26 The Australian

Veterinary Association has estimated that there are probably less

than 2 per cent of herds operated extensively, 15 - 20 per cent

of herds kept semi-extensively (pregnant sow paddocks) and the

balance, some 80 per cent of herds totally intensive.27

10.28 The Australian Pig Industry Policy Council explains the growth of intensive pig production as follows. Since the 1950s,

major changes have taken place in the way the dairy industry in

Australia is structured and operates. There has been a dramatic

decline in the production of manufacturing milk and a relative

growth in whole milk production. This, combined with a growth in

demand for skim milk for human consumption has left little skim

milk available at economic prices for pig production.28

10.29 This trend also coincided with changed consumer demands

and the development of economic pressures for pig producers to

improve productivity and quality of production. At the same time,

there have been major changes in the health, housing and

husbandry of pigs. For instance, improved housing, nutrition and husbandry practices, coupled with more sophisticated production

177

techniques and changes in consumer demands have led to major

changes in the way pigs are produced in Australia - changes

resulting in substantial improvement in the welfare of individual animals.29

10.30 According to the Australian Pig Industry Policy Council

there has been a steady decline in the number of piggeries and a

significant growth in the size of commercial piggeries.

In short, the industry has become more

intensive. It has become more technologically advanced, more productive and considerably more efficient and responsive to consumer needs.30

10.31 Animal Liberation (NSW Branch) submitted to this

Committee that when pig farming became more than a sideline to

the dairy industry and became established as an industry in its

own right, there were seemingly compelling arguments for adopting

intensive production methods, and many farmers took their lead

from the example by the already flourishing poultry industry.31

Substantial capital investments seemed justified by the promise of closer animal and environmental control, by opportunities for increased profits through greater 'efficiency' of production, and by allowing an increased scale of production.32

10.32 Expressing concern about the physical and behavioural

deprivations suffered by pigs housed in "highly mechanised

total-confinement systems",33 Animal Liberation (NSW Branch)

argued that "if it could suddenly be proven that the most humane

methods of animal husbandry also happened to be the most

profitable ones, the change-over would be immediate.34

10.33 The following figures give an indication of changes

which have occurred in the industry over the past thirty years.35

178

Table 10.2: Pigs and Holdings with Pigs

Year Ending 31 March

Pigs ('000)

Holdings Average

per holding

1960 1,424 49,537 29

1970 2,398 39,498 61

1980 2,518 19,279 131

1985 2,512 11,159 225

1986* 2,550 9,087 276

1987 2,640 8,523 306

1988 2,697 7,966 339

Care needs to be taken in analysing trends over time in respect of "holdings" and "average per holdings", in the light of the decision by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 1986/87 to exclude from the census collection, pig establishments with an

"estimated value of agricultural operations" of less than $20,000 (cf $2,500 previously).

SOURCE: Australian Pig Industry Policy Council Submission, Evidence, p. S8793.

10.34 Bill Kirsop, New South Wales Department of Agriculture

and Fisheries stated in evidence that 30 years ago most pigs were running outside or were in semi-intensive shed situations. Now 95

per cent of growers would house their animals in intensive sheds.

The usual history of participation in the industry is that

producers start with 30 sows, and they then decide to increase to

100 or 150 sows. To do that they just multiply the number of

sheds in which they keep the sows or the growers.36

10.35 According to the Department of Agriculuture and

Fisheries' Agfacts (1987) profitability still has the greatest

influence on housing design and dictates whether the pigs are

raised intensively in sheds, or less intensively in sheds and

paddocks.3^

Pig Terminology

10.36 The terms used to describe pigs at their various

development stages are as follows:

179

Gilt: a female pig after puberty and before

farrowing;

Sow: a female pig after farrowing;

Farrowing sow: a sow between the perinatal period and

weaning the piglets;

Dry sow: a sow between weaning her piglets and the perinatal period;

Boar: a male pig after puberty, intended for breeding purposes;

Barrow: a castrated male;

Piglet: a pig from birth to weaning;

Weaner: a pig from weaning to the age of 10 weeks;

Rearing pig: a pig from ten weeks to slaughter or

service;

- Growers (10 - 16 weeks)

- Porkers (16 weeks - approx. 50 - 55 kilograms) - Finishers (17 - 24 weeks)

- Baconers (24 weeks - approx. 85 - 95 kilograms)

Marketing

10.37 Most pigs were once auctioned in saleyards to butchers

or processors who sold the meat as pork, bacon, or smallgoods,

but from about the mid-1970s, with the wide-spread adoption of

carcass classification, pigs have been increasingly sold directly

to abattoirs or processors on the basis of prices related to

grading systems nominated by processors. In 1983, Australia's

first computer pig sales by description were held, with buyers in

country centres and Sydney bidding on sale lots by pressing a

button on a handset - a form of auction selling.38

10.38 Pigs were traditionally sold as porkers (weighting 25 to

40 kilograms dead-weight) or baconers (45 to 80 kilograms), or

heavy pigs (more than 80 kilograms). However, the last decade has

seen a steady rise in slaughter weights, because of the trend to

bigger carcasses for the fresh-pork trade, and the increasing

quantities of pigmeat used for canning or curing. Many butchers

have adopted newer cutting techniques that provide a larger range

180

of more interesting cuts from larger carcasses (up to 70

kilograms) than the traditional porker. These cuts are usually

referred to as "new value pork". In the early 1980s, the

industry, through the pork promotion committee, was spending

about $2 million a year on promotion of pigmeats, using money raised by a slaughter levy.39

Government Support Services

10.39 As outlined in Chapter 2 primary industry/agriculture

departments around Australia provide assistance to pig producers

in a variety of ways. Departmental advisory programs encapsulate

many of the management and breeding practices which have an

effect on the productivity of the farmer and the well-being of

the animals. They cover most aspects of nutrition, environment, reproductive management, growth rate monitoring and genetic

improvement. Direct support to the industry is provided through

district livestock officers located at strategic places through

the areas where pigs are farmed. They undertake typical advisory services like on-farm demonstrations, liaison with service

industries, the conduct of field days and meetings and a considerable amount of face to face interaction with producers.40

10.40 District officers also provide economic marketing and

classification of stock for sale advice and keep producers

abreast of research and technological advances in the industry.41

10.41 The NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries advised

in evidence that in New South Wales most producers are owner

operators. A small number of piggeries are very large (something

like 1 to 3 per cent of herds have more than 200 sows) and

produce 40 per cent of the product. A large group of producers are in the median field of 50 to 200 sows. The Department support

for the industry is with the median group; the large producers

tending to employ their own support staff either through

employment or consultation. As the small producers tend to move

in and out of the industry there is little opportunity to

influence this group.42

181

Economic Pressures

10.42 Economic constraints on the pig farmer were highlighted

in evidence given by representatives of the New South Wales

Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. Providing some

'ballpark' figures as examples Mr Badham stated that:

A 65 kilo baconer at the moment is worth

something around $140. Of that $140, there would probably be about $75 worth of feed, $20 worth of labour, $15 worth of other things like electricity, veterinary costs: giving a total of $110. That means you have a margin of about $30. That $30 then has to provide you with the return on your investment, or the money with which you are going to pay interest

on the capital that you have borrowed. If you are looking at an initial cost of around

$3,000 per sow, and you have borrowed that money at, for ease of figures, let us say 20 per cent, you are paying $600 per annum in interest on that. That therefore means that the interest bill has to be defrayed across the product of that sow. The number of piglets surviving to market then becomes quite

important in terms of profitability or lack thereof. If you have a good manager who can, say, produce 20 piglets per sow per year, then on these sorts of ballpark figures, he will make a profit. But if you have a relatively

lower level of management, where you only net 15 piglets per annum, on these sorts of

figures you are making a loss.

On that basis, there would be a number of

people out there at the moment who are still in pigs only because they either have high equity in their property, or they are using buildings that are now very old and have been totally depreciated. In terms of the survival of a new piggery coming into the industry now, survival of piglets born is an integral

component of the profitability of the

industry. On that basis, if you are going to put up a new shed that would increase the cost per sow by using the management technique that was going to allow more space, then you have

to be very careful about how you did your

figures on your expected returns.*3

182

10.43 In response to a question about industry interest in

welfare and whether it is due to pressure from animal welfare

pressure outside the industry, Mr Brechin, Pig Industry Policy

Council representative expressed the view that it is a

combination of both:

... The reason that a number of people have

left the industry - and it has been a

significant number in the last 10 or 15 years - is because of the competition within the industry, and the investment that has to go on to achieve the level of return that is

required to make a living. The second point is that there is a heavy welfare consciousness that you have to respond to, to sustain that sort of level; so it is an interaction of

things that has brought us to this present point.44

10.44 In discussing the climatic impact on pigs Dr Cutler

highlighted the comparative difference in growth rate between

intensive and extensively raised pigs and the economic

implication for growers. He put the view that if an animal was grown outside, then in wintertime there would probably be minimal

differences in growth rate, but feed consumption would be

substantially higher, in excess of 20 per cent higher, to

maintain the same growth, just because the animal would be eating

to keep warm. In summertime though, there would be as much as a

25 per cent growth penalty, simply because of the impact of high

temperatures on the animal.45

10.45 The industry is concerned about the cost implications of reform of the present system and also of negative welfare

implications. Outlawing systems which confine pigs to sheds for

the whole of their lives would result in higher cost to the

consumer for the end product. DARA's view is that this would have

an effect on the size of the industry and have a negative welfare

impact.

... Assuming that consumers want cheap, high quality meat, it becomes more expensive to competitors for pig meat and that has

implications for the industry as a whole.46

183

... we have come from a mud bath, into clean, decent ways of housing the animals. We cannot go back to what we have come from, simply from a welfare point of view ...*7

Community Concerns

10.46 The majority of community concerns and public criticism

of pig husbandry practices in Australia can be classified under

the following headings:

• Housing (including stall, flooring, bedding,

tethering, stocking densities, climate, facility for

'social interaction', general environment).

• Care and attention (including individual treatment

and capacity to 'observe' individual animal needs,

personal involvement, frequency and/or intensity of

attention).

• Drugs, feed additives and 'unnatural' foods

(including chemical contamination, force feeding,

'unnatural' growth promotion, antibiotics,

vaccinations, potential for 'poisoning').

• Husbandry practices (including teeth clipping, tail

docking, castration, branding).

• Transport and handling (including trucking/transport

conditions, loading and unloading management and

procedures, 'prodders', yarding).

• Slaughtering and handling at abattoirs (including

pre-slaughter treatment, handling and accommodation,

stunning, sticking).

• Corporate ownership (including over-riding profit

motive and total productivity orientation).4®

184

Australian Agreed Standards

10.47 The Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of the Pig

identifies the basic needs of pigs ass

• readily accessible food and water to maintain health and vigour;

• freedom of movement to stand, stretch and lie down;

• light during the daylight hours;

• visual contact with other pigs;

• accommodation which provides protection from the

weather and which neither harms nor causes distress;

and

• rapid identification and treatment of vice, injury

and diseases.

10.48 Standards for housing (as to allocation of space per pig, ventilation rates, requirements for water, safety

precautions etc.) and husbandry practices are outlined to meet

these needs.50 a copy of the Model Code of Practice for the

Welfare of Animals - 1. The Pig is at Appendix 8.

10.49 Other Codes of Practice containing provisions of

importance to the pig industry include:

• Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals:

No. 3 - Road Transport of Livestock;

• Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals:

No. 4 - Rail Transport of Livestock; •

• Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals:

No. 5 - Air Transport of Livestock;

185

• Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals:

No. 6 - Livestock and Poultry at Slaughtering

Establishments (Abattoirs, Slaughter Houses and

Knackeries);

• Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals:

No. 7 - Animals at Saleyards; and

• Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals:

No. 8 - Sea Transport of Livestock.

10.50 According to the Australian Veterinary Association the

Codes of Practice for the Welfare of the Pig have been criticised by some outside the industry concerned with the pig's welfare on

the grounds that the current practices within the industry have

been merely legitimised.51 These issues are discussed in the

following chapters.

186

ENDNOTES

1. I.J. Lean, 'Pigs' in Management and Welfare of Farm Animals. The UFAW Handbook, Third Edition, 1988, UK,

p. 148.

2. New South Wales Department of Agriculture, AGFACTS, Aqdex

440/60, 1985, p. 1.

3. I.J. Lean, op. cit., p. 147.

4. Evidence, Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal

Societies, p. S8860.

5. Evidence, Australian Federation for the Welfare of

Animals, pp. S8933-8934 .

6. ibid.

7. New South Wales Department of Agriculture, AGFACTS, Aqdex

440/30, 1984, p. 1.

8. The Australian Encyclopaedia, Fourth Edition, 1983, pp.

50-51.

9. New South Wales Department of Agriculture, AGFACTS, Aqdex

440/37, 1987, p. A4.3.10.

10. ibid., p. A4.3.8 and 9.

11. Evidence, Dr J. Blackshaw, University of Queensland,

pp. 6853-6854.

12. Evidence, Australian Pig Industry Policy Council, p. 9417.

13. Evidence, Australian Veterinary Association, pp.

9562-9563.

187

14. Stolbar, Baker and Woodgush, 1983, cited in Evidence,

Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal Societies,

p. S8860.

15. Evidence, Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal

Societies, p. S8860-1.

16. Evidence, Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal

Societies, p. S8860.

17. ibid., p. S8824.

18. ibid., p. S8860.

19. ibid.

20. Evidence, Dr J. Blackshaw, University of Queensland,

pp. 6839-6842.

21. Evidence, Australian Pig Industry Policy Council,

p. S8791, Australian Veterinary Association, p. S9020.

22. Evidence, Australian Pig Industry Policy Council,

p. S8792. These figures come from a national survey

published by the Victorian Department of Agriculture in

1949.

23. Evidence, Australian Veterinary Association, p. S9023.

24. ibid.

25. ibid.

26. ibid., p. S9025.

27. ibid., p. S9026.

188

28. Evidence, Australian Pig Industry Policy Council,

p. S8792.

29. ibid.

30. ibid.

31. Evidence, Animal Liberation (NSW Branch), submission April

1984 p .3

32. ibid.

33. ibid., p.4

34. ibid., p. 3

35. Evidence, Australian Pig Industry Policy Council,

p. S8793.

36. Evidence, New South Wales Department of Agriculture, pp.

9231-9232.

37. New South Wales Department of Agriculture, AGFACTS, Aqdex

440/720, 1987, p. 1.

38. The Australian Encyclopaedia, Fourth Edition, 1983, pp.

51-52 .

39. ibid., p. 52.

40. Evidence, New South Wales Department of Agriculture and

Fisheries, p. 9230.

41. ibid.

42. ibid.

43. ibid., pp. 9251-9252.

189

44. Evidence, Australian Pig Industry Policy Council, p. 9441.

45. Evidence, Victorian Department of Agricultural and Rural

Affairs, p. 9402.

46. ibid., p. 9401.

47. ibid.

48. Evidence, Australian Pig Industry Policy Council, p. 8804.

49. Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals. 1. The

Pig, Issued by the Australian Bureau of Animal Health,

1983, p. 2.

50. ibid., pp. 3-16.

51. Evidence, Australian Veterinary Association, p. S9027.

190

CHAPTER 11

INTENSIVE PIG HOUSING

Introduction

11.1 The Australian Pig Industry Policy Council submitted to

this inquiry that in contrast to the relatively poor conditions

under which many pigs were kept in the past under low cost,

extensive and semi-intensive systems, intensive pig husbandry

offers many advantages both to producers and their animals. It also has provided significant benefits to consumers in the form

of regular supplies of cheaper, better quality products.1

11.2 Apart from providing a greater degree of management and

financial control over the end product and an improved capacity

to meet ever more exacting consumer demands for meat quality and

value for money, intensive pig husbandry has made it possible to

introduce significant improvements in pigs' environments.

Cleanliness, lack of diseases, more stable temperatures and

humidity levels and a general lowering of stress on animals have

all contributed towards improved conditions for pigs which, in

turn have been reflected in better productivity performances.2

Industry View of Welfare Criticisms

11.3 The industry claims that most criticism of pig

production in Australia is without foundation, that there is little evidence of ill treatment of animals, and that almost all

the pigs produced in Australia are produced within the guidelines

laid down in the Code of Practice.3 From a practical point of

view, the industry firmly believes in the need to actively

promote animal welfare as a means of ensuring high levels of

livestock productivity and the profitability of the industry.

Animal welfare and sound piggery management are inexorably

linked.^

191

Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal Societies Concerns

11.4 ANZFAS is very aware that its criticisms of intensive

systems are often dismissed as ill-informed if well-meaning

anthropomorphism and has therefore presented a closely argued

scientifically based (physiological and behavioural) presentation

of the issues to this Committee. It argues for the importance of

objective scientific assessments of suffering and is concerned

about those people who think that physiological measures will

provide definitive answers in the welfare debate:

While physiological measures might be welcomed by some because of their supposedly

quantifiable nature, they also have

limitations and it is easy to overestimate their reliability relative to behavioural data. Two points must be borne in mind:

1) Physiological parameters such as levels of adrenal hormones can be accurately

measured, but so can behaviour ...

2) The interpretation of behavioural data is difficult, that is, we do not know exactly how particular behaviour reflects the subjective feelings of animals. Exactly the same problem exists with regard to physiological data. As indicated above, even a relatively simple measure such as adrenaline level cannot be interpreted unambiguously.

Certainly physiological evidence can make a useful contribution to the welfare debate. However, it should not be given greater weight

than other sources of information. We return to the need to gather converging evidence via many different approaches as the most reliable indicator of suffering.5

11.5 ANZFAS is critical of the Model Code of Practice for

Pigs for several reasons the overriding criteria being that

although the Code claims to recognise that the basic requirement

for the welfare of pigs is a husbandry system appropriate to

their physiological and behavioural needs the most basic

behavioural needs of pigs are not acknowledged.5 It makes the

192

point in this context that in the light of research findings over

recent years and "the undertaking in the preface to the Code that

it should be reviewed to take account of advances in our

understanding of animal physiology and behaviour" a review is overdue.?

11.6 ANZFAS argues that although specifying the basic needs

of pigs it:

• nevertheless allows accommodation which causes injury

to feet and joints and recommends a grossly

inadequate space allowance;

• acknowledges that tethers are detrimental to the

welfare of sows, but accepts that sows may be kept in

this system;

• acknowledges that "vices" such as tail biting are

management problems but accepts surgical "solutions"

such as tail docking.^

11.7 ANZFAS claims that many of the practices accepted within

this Code are being questioned in European countries because

close confinement does not meet any reasonable welfare criteria.9

11.8 ANZFAS submitted to this inquiry that by several

different criteria close confinement causes stress to pigs and

recommended that the following be provided by statute: 1

1) No further construction of dry sow stalls to be

permitted.

2) Tethering to be banned immediately.

3) Dry sow stalls to be phased out over a period of 5

years.

4) Wire cages for piglets to be phased out over a

period of 5 years.

193

5) Farrowing crates to be phased out within 5 years,

and research to be undertaken immediately into

humane alternatives.

6) Within a maximum of 5 years, all pigs to have access

to an outdoor run adeguate to satisfy physical and

behavioural needs.

7) Educational material and courses to be provided for

farmers to produce the level of stockmanship

required for loose housing of animals.

8) All pigs

materials.

to have access to appropriate rooting

9) All pigs to have sufficient bedding to provide comfort and to protect them from physical injury.

10) All farrowing sows to have access to nesting

material.

11) All pigs to live with others of their species in

stable social groups in such a manner as to permit

continuing physical contact.

12) The lying area available to each adult pig to be no

less than 3 sq m, with no less than 1 sq m for each

growing pig.

13) Minimum feed requirements for pigs of different body

weights should be stipulated, including not only

nutrient requirements, but also the bulk to satisfy

feeding motivation.

14) Suitable feeding arrangements to be made to limit

feed competition.

15) All pigs to be protected from predators, extremes of

temperature and the elements.

16) Castration, teeth clipping, ear notching and tail

docking of piglets to be prohibited. Tail biting and

nibbling of the sow's belly and litter mates, are

essentially management problems and should be

treated as such.

194

11.9 These recommendations stem from physical and behavioural considerations based on the belief that the behaviour of the

modern pig's ancestor was genetically adapted to survive under

extreme conditions. Since it is most unlikely that genetic change

in the behavioural needs of the pig in keeping pace with the

rapid changes in the environment of the intensive farm many aspects should be phased out.

Confinement Housing

11.10 Intensive housing may cover a wide range of building

types but they all seek to provide an insulated living space in

which temperature, ventilation, bedding etc. can be wholly or

partially controlled by the producer. Most pigs in Australia are now produced under conditions where temperature, humidity and

ventilation are all controlled to some degree.12

11.11 Various forms of accomodation are used, all of which try

to minimise housing costs while maintaining an adequate environment for efficient food use. All pigs, sows, boars,

weaned, growing and finishing pigs live in a barren environment. The physical dimensions of their living space, their companions,

the stocking rate and the feed type are all tightly controlled.

They are commonly put together in groups of the same age, sex and

weight. In this situation they have to learn to recognise feed,

water and dunging sites and to fit into a social hierarchy.

Various behaviours are shown as this hierarchy develops. Newly

mixed pigs will fight to establish a linear hierarchy. Fighting

may be intense for up to 48 hours after mixing and will continue intermittently thereafter. The social rank which develops as a

result of fighting usually reflects the weight of individual pigs

within it - the heaviest being most dominant, the smallest least

dominant.*3

195

11.12 The majority of units in the pig industry are small

enough for one or two people to manage. For example in the whole

of Australia there are only about 16 per cent of units that have

more than 500 sows. Units of this size require three or four

people to ensure proper supervision and care.14

11.13 The NSW Department of Agriculture submitted the

following general recommendations on housing to this inquiry:

Any system which allows for individual feeding is preferred over group feeding.

Intensive housing is preferred, in that it is easier to provide an optimum environment, in which the pigs grow better.

In general, the more freedom the pig is given, the greater the managerial skills required. Pigs confined in groups outdoors tend to destroy their own environment (including soil erosion) and both indoors and outdoors are subject to bullying and inequities in feed distribution.

Since Departmental officers are not always in a position to assess management skills, they must recommend a system which will give good results in the hands of most people, i.e.

individual housing, individual feeding. Stalls are recommended in preference to the tethers, again because a higher degree of managerial skill is required when tethers are used.

These recommendations may be modified

depending on the circumstances, and on the assessment of an individual producer.15

Pig Welfare Research in Australia

11.14 Community concern has led to some concentration of

research effort to quantify, objectively, the alleged stressful

effects of confinement housing on pig welfare, and to compare

alleged beneficial effects of one system to another. Research

sponsored by the industry through the Australian Pig Research

Council, in relation to the size of the industry, is quite

196

extensive by world standards. Current (1989/90) funding of

research will exceed $3 million, of which approximately seven per cent will be dedicated to projects directly related to pig welfare.

11.15 The Pig Research Council is a Commonwealth advisory body

which has the primary function of advising on pig research and

development and approving payment of money from the Pig Research

Trust Fund (producer levy). The overall mission of the Council is

to sponsor the development, dissemination and adoption of

innovative research and technology which will improve the viability, efficiency and competitiveness of the Australian pig

industry. The following pie chart gives an indication of

priorities in 1987-88.

BUILDINGS

EDUCATION

6%

PROCESSNG

ADM INISTRATION

9%

MARKETING

4 %

COMMUNICATIONS

3%

HEALTH

16% EFFLUENT DISPOSAL

Figure 1

SOURCE: Pig Research Council Annual Report 1987-88 p.3

Research projects specifically related to pig welfare and supported by the Australian Pig Industry Research Committee and the Australian Pig Research Council

Project Title Date completed

DAV 24 The effect of intensive and free-range conditions on the physiological and behavioural responses associated with welfare status in the pig. 1982

DAV 39 The influence of intensive housing and stress responsiveness on the welfare status and productivity of breeding sows. 1986

UQ 4 Social stresses in growing pigs. 1983

UQ 8 Commercial piggery design in relation to sow behaviour. 1984

UQ 9 Design of space in pig housing with consideration for behavioural consequences, stocking rates and group sizes. 1986

US 11 Gastric ulceration and digestive function. 1984

UM 19 The effect of different types of "toys" on the social behaviour and growth of weaner pigs. 1983

UM 22 Motivation of pigs to perform behaviour patterns frustrated by an intensive environment. 1985

DAV 48 Behavioural limits to high reproductive efficiency in pigs. 1987

DAV 55 Farrowing accommodation: the effects of design on behavioural patterns related to improving performance and welfare. 1990

UM 25 Ethological needs of farrowing sows. 1988

DAV 61 The welfare of sows: improving the design and utilisation of dry sow accommodation. 1989

UNE 9 Automated electronic feed stations for dry sow management in Australian piggeries. 1989

DAW 16 Preslaughter handling of pigs and its effect on yield and meat quality. 1987

DAV 65 Fear of humans by pigs and its relationship to the attitudinal and behavioural profiles of stockpersons. 1990

198

Project Title Date completed

UWA 15 Water turnover in pigs in the transport/abattoir environment. 1990

UQ 13 Development of a salivary cortisol method for measuring changes in the plasma free cortisol in the pig. 1988

UM 35 Adaptation and the welfare of confined pigs. 1991

UM 36 Freedom of the farrowing sow. 1991

DAV 82 The welfare of sows: methods of mixing to minimise aggression and injury. 1992

Index to project codes:

DAV Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Victoria UQ University of Queensland US University of Sydney UM University of Melbourne UNE University of New England

DAW West Australian Department of Agriculture UWA University of Western Australia

SOURCE: Pig Research Council, tabled document. Public hearing Canberra, 23 October 1989.

11.16 In the main past Australian projects sought to establish objective measurements of "stress" in housed pigs, particularly

in systems of confinement. As well there was research on

methodology which might be used to "improve" the conditions under

which pigs are housed. Future research will seek to establish the

elements of management and housing that could further improve pig

welfare.

Intensive Housing and Environment

11.17 Indoor pig housing is designed for four distinct phases

of production: the period of pregnancy; farrowing and rearing;

weaning and feeding.

199

Sow Housing

11.18 Community concern about confinement housing of pigs has

concentrated on the condition (adverse or otherwise) said to

pertain for housed sows. The concern stems from the belief that

confinement for long periods (the breeding life of a sow in a

herd may be as long as four years) will be stressful.1®

11.19 Under intensive conditions, the sow has little

opportunity to exhibit the behaviour patterns which occur in more

natural situations before and during parturition. The extreme

restlessness commented on by many workers has led to a

re-evaluation of the type of accommodation provided for this

time, but has not led so far to any changes in common commercial

practice. It has been suggested, for example, that an increase in

farrowing space might lead, under certain conditions, to a

reduction in piglet mortality, but producers are wary of change

because of the costs involved in providing efficient and humane

farrowing accommodation.1®

11.20 Confinement systems for sows vary both as to

reproductive status (pregnant, lactating, weaned/unmated) and

feeding/resting methods.

11.21 There are four main systems for keeping dry sows:

• open range grazing with group-feeding,

• groups run in paddocks with individual feeding (for

example, in sow stalls),

• groups run in concrete pens with individual feeding

stalls, and

• dry sow stalls.

Farrowing sows -

• individual pen, confined to stall

• individual pen, confined by tether

• individual pen/house, not stalled or tethered.

200

Gilts

• group housed

• individually stalled or tethered.20

11.22 It is estimated that 15 - 20 per cent of sows spend a proportion of their productive life in extensive (paddock)

conditions.21 The rest are confined continually.

The Open Range System

11.23 Sows grazing green crop or pasture, and supplemented with dry feed, will do well under this system. It is possible to

run 12 sows/hectare with electric fencing.22

Group Run - Individual Feeding

11.24 The NSW Department of Agriculture suggested in its Agfacts 1982 that ideally, the best system is to group-run sows

in concrete pens and feed them individually. (AGDEX 441/720)It is

an excellent system, but very expensive to set up. Sows stalls

are at the front of the pen. The back area is an open concrete

pen with a slope towards the back wall. A mesh covered drain, 0.5

m wide, runs along the back wall. The concrete floor should have 50 to 75 cm fall to the drain. Allow 3 sq m of floor space for

each sow in the pen. This is a wash-down system and is labour intensive.23

Dry Sow Stalls

11.25 This is probably the most common method of keeping sows

intensively. Once sows are mated they are generally housed in

stalls which measure 2.15 metres long and 0.60 metres wide. The

stalls are constructed of pipe or round steel. Sows enter from

the rear and, depending on the construction can exit either from

- 201

the front or rear. The rear of the stall is slatted most often

with concrete or pipe clay slats. Water is provided in a trough

at the front and feed is supplied daily. Sows remain in the stall

for most of the gestation period. The stalls are located in

sheds with natural ventilation being the norm. A water trough is

usually placed in front of the sow. She is fed either on the

trough or on the floor behind the trough. Concrete keeps the

sows' hooves in good shape. Mesh is the next best, followed by

hardwood timber. Stalls with mesh floors stay cleaner than stalls

with concrete or timber floor. The dry sow stall can have either

a chain or gate at the back to keep the sow in.24

11.26 By using stalls producers are able to maintain sows in

the correct condition for farrowing. Overfeeding can result in

difficult farrowings and reduced feed intake during lactation.

Reduced feed intake during lactation means sows can wean in poor

condition. This creates managerial difficulties in the future gestation periods.25

11.27 Stalls permit the animals to be checked daily for any sickness or managerial problems.26

11.28 The environment in dry sow sheds does not have the

extremes found in extensive systems.27

11.29 The NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

recommends that dry stalls is the first preference but other

systems are acceptable if sows are group run and individually fed

or electronic sow feeders are used. Systems other than dry stalls

have more managerial inputs, can be costly, and have deleterious

effects on the sow's well being. There is less control with most of the alternatives.28

202

Dry Sow Tethers

11.30 Under this system sows are tethered either by the neck

or the girth in half stalls. These stalls are 0.6 metres wide. The sows are able to lie close to each other at the rear end. The

neck tether consists of light chain with a cover to protect the

animal at the top of the neck. Sows are tethered for the full

gestation period.29

11.31 The NSW Department of Agriculture submitted that less

than five per cent of sows are kept in tethers in New South Wales

and that in recent years tethers have not been installed.30

11.32 The Department considers that provided tethers are

checked regularly and are correctly fitted with quick release

collars there is no evidence that replacement is necessary or

need be recommended. It prefers dry sow stalls due to the ease of

management.31

Dry Sow Pens

11.33 In some intensive piggeries sows are kept in small

groups (6-10 sows) in large pens 8 to 12 sq metres in size. They

remain in these pens for the full gestation period. Where

possible producers try to keep compatible sows together. Young

sows tend to be more compatible.32

11.34 The major disadvantage with this system is that bullying

of sows can occur. This bullying can lead to the sow aborting her

litter.33

11.35 It is very difficult to maintain the correct level of

feeding according to the sow's condition. The bullies get the

most feed. Checking for the health of the animal can be difficult under this system.34

203

11.36 The NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

submitted that most intensive alternatives are more expensive, but give greater control over feed intake and eliminate bullying. Where cost of establishing a piggery is a factor the will suggest the practice, but explain its limitations. A high degree of

supervision is required.35

Farrowing Systems

11.37 A farrowing stalls is a frame approximately 2.1 metres

long and 0.6 metres wide in which a sow is placed prior to farrowing and remains in it until her piglets are weaned, usually at between 3 and 4 weeks. Water is available at all times and feed comes from a self feeder or is provided once or twice daily.36

11.38 At the rear of the stall there is a small slatted area. The farrowing stall is situated in a pen of approximately 3.5 sq metres. Within this pen provision is made for the suckers to keep warm, dry and free from draughts.37

11.39 The purpose of a farrowing stall is to prevent the young pigs from being crushed by the sow.38

11.40 Farrowing stalls come with various designs - prong, adjustable bars, hydraulic rails and anti crush rails.39

11.41 The NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

submitted that stalls have been in operation for over a quarter of a century in New South Wales and that today in excess of 95 per cent of sows would farrow in farrowing stalls.40

11.42 The Department reported that prior to the introduction of farrowing stalls losses due to crushing were of the order of 10-15 per cent. Well managed piggeries can reduce their losses due to crushing to below 5 per cent.^l

204

11.43 Alternative approaches prior to the introduction of farrowing stalls included the following farrowing systems:

(1) Ruakura Round House

(2) A Frames (3) Large pens with crush rails (4) Nests

(5) Sloping Floors

11.44 The NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries submitted that all of these systems are considered satisfactory

but they require more space, are costly and the survival rates are below those of the farrowing stall.42 t q date alternatives

systems have not achieved the same level of efficiency.

Mortalities would be higher if farrowing stalls were eliminated.

Farrowing stalls have proved to be the most successful method for reducing losses of baby pigs.*3

Conclusion

11.45 The Australian Pig Industry Policy Council submitted

that the majority of sows are kept in groups ranging in size from

eight to 40, that bullying can sometimes be a problem with this

system as can uneven distribution of feed between sows, and that both stalls and tethers were developed so that sows could be given individual attention, fed individually, and protected from more aggressive sows.44

Weaner Pig Accommodation (5 kg - 2.5 kg)

11.46 when young pigs are weaned from the sow, they are placed

into weaner cages, or pens with kennels. The area of a pen is

usually 2.25 to 3 m2 . The stocking density varies from 0.11 m2/pig at the lighter weights to 0.2 m heavier weights. The accommodation is provided in specialised weaner sheds or is

incorporated in grower or farrowing sheds.45

205

11.47 Cages are usually placed 30 cm above floor level with

drains placed in strategic locations, or cages can be placed

above (usually about 1 metre) grower pens.46

11.48 Pens with kennels are at ground level with a dunging

area provided. Water is provided at all times and provision is

made for self feeders. Where specialised weaner accommodation is

provided, it includes a controlled environment system to maintain temperature between 24° - 28°c.47

11.49 The NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

submitted that the introduction of special weaner accommodation

has resulted in higher survival rates. This is due to the

environment being closer to their needs, better hygiene, improved

watering and feeding facilities. In New South Wales 95 per cent

of all weaners are housed in this form of accommodation. The

Department has no preference for either cages or kennels in pens

provided the weaners are kept in a near optimum environment.

11.50 Alternative weaner accommodation are grower pens, open fronted sheds and yards, and paddocks.

11.51 The NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

submitted that if the industry had to revert back to the

alternatives slower growth, higher disease incidence and greater mortalities would be the consequence.

Grower Pig Accommodation

11.52 When removed from weaner pens growing pigs are normally

transferred to pens approximately 1.5 to 1.8 metres wide and 3.6

to 4.2 metres long. At the rear of each pen is a 1.2 metre

slatted drain. Usual stocking rates are 0.32 m2/pig at the

lighter weights to 0.65 m 2/pig at the heaviest weights. The pens

are located in enclosed sheds which vary in size depending on the

206

size of the piggery. The pigs have access to self feeders. The

pigs are fed daily w h e n not on self f e e d e r s . This feeding is

either m anual or by means of automatic f e e d e r s . The pigs have

direct contact with o t h e r pigs through open sided or m e s h walls.

The sheds in m o s t cases are natu r a l l y v e n t i l a t e d . 49

11.53 The NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

estimates that in New South Wales 90 per cent of pigs are raised in pens within enclosed or partly enclosed sheds.50 The

Australian Veterinary Association estimated that nationally in excess of 98 per cent of all growing pigs are raised in

confinement.51

11.54 The NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

submitted that experience has shown that pigs raised under these

conditions grow much quicker (in excess of 800 grams daily)

compared to extensive systems. The method allows for better

management and supervision and lower disease incidence. The environment is superior to the extremes of an extensive system.52

11.55 Alternative sytems are open range or outside runs in

conjunction with open fronted sheds. The NSW Department of

Agriculture and Fisheries submits that these systems require a

higher level of management, are economically inferior and have a

higher disease incidence. 'The price of pigmeat would have to

rise considerably to compensate for the higher operational costs of alternative systems'.53

11.56 The NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries submits

that the rearing of grower pigs in intensive sheds is the most viable and practical means of pig production.54

Stocking Density

11.57 The model Code of Practice states that it is not

possible to relate stocking density to welfare in a simple

manner. Adequate welfare involves consideration of group size,

pen size, age, breed, temperature, ventilation, lighting and

207

o ther husbandry f a c t o r s . The o b servance of a ny particular

s t ocking density on its own cannot ensure the w e l f a r e of pigs,

the suggested m i n i m u m space allowances in housed pigs based on

c o ntemporary techniques are shown in Table 11.1.55

Table 11.1: Maximum Recommended Stocking Densities for Housed Pigs

Systems

Minimum space allowance m 2 per pig Comments

Growing pigs up to 10 kg in groups. 0.11 Approximately 20 to

11 - 20 kg 0.18 30 per cent of space

21 - 40 kg 0.32 allowance provides

41 - 60 kg 0.44 for a dunging area.

61 - 80 kg 0.56

81 - 100 kg 0.65

Adult pigs in groups 1.4

Adult pigs in individual stalls 0.6 x 1.8 m

Boars in pens used for mating 6.25 Minimum length of

shortest side 2 m.

Lactating sows and litters: - stalls 3.2 With piglets up to

4 weeks of age.

- individual pens 5.6

- multisuckling groups 5.6 For each sow and

litter.

(Conversion factors: 1.0 m2 = 10.8 ft2; 1.0 kg = 2.2 lb; 1 m = 39 .4 in)

208

Contentious Issues

11.58 The pig industry view on contentious issues is that:

• Current knowledge of the pigs behavioural and physiological responses to different housing systems

does not support the contention that confinement systems are less desirable from a welfare point of

view than group housing. There is experimental

evidence to show that tethers do not necessarily

result in poor welfare and that group housing - even when used in accordance with accepted codes of

practice - does not necessarily ensure adequate

welfare.

• Experimental evidence also suggests that even if

given the opportunity to exercise sows prefer to rest

and that the provision of an exercise area for domestic sows does not ensure that they will use it.

• All of these housing systems have their advantages

and disadvantages. In all cases management or

stockmanship is far more important from a welfare

point of view than the choice of a particular system.56

11.59 ANZFAS's view on contentious issues can be summarised as

follows:

Physical Conditions

11.60 ANZFAS cites evidence to support its view that intensive housing results in considerable wounding and structural damage to

pigs. Lack of exercise and hard surfaces combine to produce a

variety of foot and joint problems and while the badly damaged

ones are culled "... more animals are likely to be affected, not

severely enough to be killed, but generally enough to be

suffering pain". Hard surfaces also lead to leg and teat wounds,

especially among piglets.57

209

11.61 ANZFAS submits that these afflictions are detrimental to

the welfare of pigs and could be overcome if more suitable

housing, with the following features, was provided:

• sufficient space to allow each pig to walk freely;

• as a minimum, group housing and bedding material to motivate activity;

• where concrete rather than earth surfaces are used,

sufficient bedding to prevent skin wounds; and

• sufficient space for a separate dunging area to maintain clean bedding.58

Behavioural Aspects

11.62 ANZFAS submitted that:

• there is no doubt that sows in individual stalls

develop stereotyped behaviour, which researchers

classify as abnormal and indicative of unsatisfactory

husbandry practices. Stereotypes may have different

causes. One such cause has been identified as

inadequate feeding. Even if the concentrated rations

are satisfactory from a nutritional and caloric point

of view, they are quite alien to the pig's natural

diet. Frustration and the resultant stereotypes can

be reduced by providing more fibre (such as straw) to

give a feeling of satiation and to extend the time

actually spent eating, which as Rushen reported,

involves many hours in the wild. Even more

importantly, the strong oral/nasal exploratory needs

of the pig must be satisfied either by providing

earth or straw in enclosures. Barren and confined

individual stalls do not meet these needs, and this

frustration is expressed by limited and repetitive

behavioural sequences largely involving the snout.59

210

'Both stall and t e ther systems fail to m e e t certain

w e lfare c r i t e r i a to w hich we attach particular

i m p o r t a n c e . As a result of their design the animals

h oused in t hem are prevented from exercising and from

displaying m o s t natural b ehaviour p a t t e r n s ; in the

w i d e range of systems seen by members there was a

little scope to reduce the c o ntinuing stress w hich

c an be caused by confinement in these s y s t e m s .'60

A l though the farrowing crate offers some protection

to p i g l e t s , it does not prevent a quite significant

number still b e i n g crushed by the sow. In the

confined and b arren space of the crate, piglets m a y

learn restlessness which is detrimental to the

survival of their own litters later in l i f e . This

restlessness is exacerbated by the frustration of the

sow's strong nest building instinct. Thus, for

several reasons the farrowing crate is not a

satisfactory form of a c c o m m o d a t i o n .61

The problem of aggression in grouped housed p i g s ,

therefore is not insoluble. Pigs must have the

opportunity from an early stage to freely interact

w i t h others to learn appropriate social behaviour.

T h e y must have sufficient space to demonstrate the

recognition and avoidance behaviours which regulate

aggression. Finally, feeding arrangements must be

carefully designed to minimise c o m p e t i t i o n . ^ 2

F r o m a w e lfare point of v i e w the family p en is

clearly successful. Pigs can m ove freely and express

their instinctive behavioural n e e d s . No abnormal

behaviour is observed, and the incidence of

aggression, disease and lameness is low. The stress

of social d i sruption is avoided. Piglets can be

introduced to solid food gradually and show no signs

of the diarrhoea sometimes seen in piglets w e a n e d at

211

three weeks of age (Lawrence, personal

communication). The pen is also successful from a

productive point of view. Ninety-three per cent of

sows conceive while still lactating. They average

2.32 litters per year, with a mean of 11.2 liveborn

piglets per litter. The food conversion ratio in

these piglets is similar to intensive systems.63

• The space allowance in group pens is another factor

influencing aggression. Aggressive encounters among

growing pigs decreased as space allowance increased

in the study by Ewbank and Bryant (1972). Jensen

(1984) also shows that inadequate space produces more

agonistic interactions among sows. He compared sows

in group pens with either 3sq m per pig (deconfined)

or 2.25sq m per pig (semi-confined), or individual

stalls (confined). Interactions in general declined

as space declined, but aggression increased. Ninety

per cent of the interactions between the confined

sows involved three behaviours. There was no

head-head knock, nose-nose and nose-body, the first

two of which are threat behaviours. There was no

anal/genital nosing (recognition behaviour) or

retreat (submissive behaviour). Comparing the group

pens, the threat behaviour of head-body knocks was

five times more common in semi-confinement than

deconfinement. The submissive behaviours of head-tilt

and retreat were three times more common in

deconfinment. As Jensen (1987, p. 100) concludes,

sows must have enough space to be able to carry out

recognition and avoidance behaviour, which strengthen

the dominance order and regulates aggression.64

11.63 These points reflect the debate about intensive housing

and the studies which have been undertaken. They highlight the

concerns and the complexities.

212

Comparative Analysis of Dry Sow Housing in the United Kingdom

11.64 There is an obvious need for a comparative look in this country at the systems for keeping pigs and the effects of the

differing environments. The following tables are from an article

written by M.R. Muirhead, BVM and S, FRVCS, DPM on pig housing

and environment published in the United Kingdom's The Veterinary

Record in December 1983.65

11.65 Climatic differences aside these provide a useful

commentary on pig welfare issues.

213

Table 2: Advantages and disadvantages of commonly used systems for keeping dry sows and their effect on the animal, the pig keeper, the environment and on production costs

A Paddock systems B Individual pens C Yards

Housing Grouped outdoors with Indoors in confined pens or tethers Partial or totally indoors

varying degrees of Types of housing: May have straw bedding

shelter and no bedding Insulated with controlled ventilation No supplementary heat Stalls on slats Stalls on solid floors Cubicles on slats Cubicles on solid floors with straw Tethered on slats

Tethered on straw

Management Working conditions poor Working conditions good Usually good conditions

Observation difficult and little Observation good Observation fair

can be provided High level required Moderate level required

No control over the individual Individual attention easily given Difficult to supervise the individual Treatment difficult Treatment easy Treatment reasonable

Pregnancy diagnosis impossible Pregnancy diagnosis easily carried out

Pregnancy diagnosis difficult

Management Little required Good management required Moderate management required

requirements Little expertise required Considerable expertise required Moderate expertise required

Welfare Severe competition No competition Environment competitive

considerations Severe fighting problem No fighting Severe fighting problems

Parasite problems Parasites uncommon Parasite problems

Lameness rare Lameness common Lameness not uncommon

Pressure sores rare Pressure sores common Pressure sores not uncommon

Abscesses common Abscesses uncommon Abscesses may occur

Some nutritional deprivation Nutrition - good availability Some deprivation Exercise unlimited Exercise restricted Exercise unlimited

Comfort poor Comfort variable Comfort good

Disease control poor Disease control good Disease control good

Vices moderate, eg. stone eating

Vices moderate, eg. bar biting Vices moderate

Environment Temperature Dependent on weather Generally regulated Rarely drops below zero inside

Often cold and wet Warm and dry Dry areas available

Animals can huddle No ability to huddle Huddling possible

Unsheltered, lying area often wet Sheltered Sheltered

Air speed Dependent on weather Regulated and negligible Usually low, but can be draughty

Hygiene Food usually eaten off the Generally hygienic Hygiene poor

floor subject to soiling Little wastage Eating straw encourages ingestion

and wastage High dung intake

No dung intake of faeces

Nutrition Competition leads to bullying Feed intake readily supervised Competition leads to variable and variable feed intake levels Very difficult to feed in winter

in muddy fields

and controlled feed intake requires provision

of individual feeders

Extra nutrition is provided by Total nutrition is supplied, Straw used for bedding will be the soil and grass eaten Increased feed levels are required the system results

in thin sows

formulated and regulated by man ingested and have a nutritional value

Table 2: continued

A Paddock systems B Individual pens C Yards

Water supply Variable availability Normally good

Difficult to check Shortage easily noted

Subject to freezing Generally dirty Usually clean

Normally good Difficult to check Subject to freezing outside Usually clean

Waste disposal No problems but can be messy

W ell drained land required

Slurry conveniently handled

Sows tethered on straw produce solid muck High risk of pollution if poor facilities

Solid manure

Labour intensive to handle

Exercise No restriction Restricted

Exercise said to be beneficial No evidence to show lack of to health exercise is detrimental

Limited May combine benefits of other two systems

Trauma Frequent fighting

Damage from fencing, machinery etc.

Infection Cross infection Readily occurs, eg. worms, swine dysentery

No fighting Lameness can occur if surfaces unsuitable Bed sores in thin sows, sores

from bars or tethers

Ready-controlled Extra vaccination may be required

Fighting common Little mechanical damage

Vulval biting prevalent

Readily occurs in groups eg. worms, swine dysentery, salmonella

New infection

Productivity

Easily become established Easily spread in herd Dirty water Dung intake Animals cold and wet in wir

Feed utilisation lowered

Subject to considerable control Less easily spread Clean water No dung intake Animals warm and dry

Good feed utilisation

Fertility reduced Good fertility

Subject to considerable control Easily spread in group Dung intake from straw bedding Animals may lie in wet

Reasonable feed conversion efficiency Fertility very good

Cost Building costs inexpensive

Land costs expensive Good fencing needed Land not available for other crops but soil fertility

improved Poor inaccessible land can be used

Building costs substantial

Land cost minimal

Land does not compete with other crops and provides manure

Manure handling more expensive

Building costs moderate - often converted old building Low land cost

Land does not com pete with other crops and provides rich manure

Other Fire risk low

No mechanical failure

No smell

Fire risk high Fire risk moderate

Subject to mechanical failure Possible mechanical failure Electrocution risk Considerable smell Some smell

Source: M.R. Muirhead, 'Pig Housing and Environment', Veterinary Record, 1983, Vol. 113, UK pp. 587-593

Conclusion

11.66 All pig production systems have advantages and

disadvantages from the welfare point of view. It is this

Committee's view that an intensive system is proper if the health

of the animals is not affected, if their behaviour is not

disturbed, and if their adaptability is not overcharged.

11.67 The Committee inspected a number of different intensive

systems from a several thousand sow corporate establishment to

owner-operated farms with a few hundred sows and saw the various

accommodation options described above in operation.

11.68 The Committee notes that while controversy has

stimulated some welfare specific research in Australia on the

impact of different intensive systems there has been virtually no

study of the economic implications of the different approaches.

11.69 The Brambell Committee commented in its discussion on

pig housing that the living space available in intensive systems

have tended to decline to a level at or near that at which the

saving in capital costs of the buildings becomes offset by loss of production.66

11.70 This is the difficult point in the debate on pig

densities generally and on sow confinement in particular. The

Committee recommends therefore that the Pig Research Council

actively encourage research to address the cost equation

associated with capital costs of pig housing and loss of

production with a view to clarifying some welfare stress issues.

11.71 The Committee recommends that the maximum recommended

stocking densities for growing and adult pigs in groups be

reviewed to take account of the advances in understanding of

physiology and behaviour and the welfare consequences of pen

space, stocking rates and group sizes.

216

11.72 The Committee has considered the dry sow housing

question and noting the advantages of stalls and tethers

(protection from bullying, close monitoring and control of food

intake), believes both to be undesirable means of restraint. The

Committee is of the view that those systems providing sow

cubicles with access to exercise areas are more conducive to sow

welfare. The Committee recommends that future trends in housing

the dry sow should be away from individually-confined stall

systems and that this be reflected in the Codes of Practice for the welfare of the pig. The Committee recommends that tethering

of sows be banned.

11.73 The Committee, noting that sow size has increased over

the years, recommends that immediate attention be given to ensure that stalls and farrowing crates currently in use do not cause

suffering due to cramping. The Committee recommends that the Codes of Practice for the pig be revised to ensure stalls and

crates reflect the body dimensions of large sows.

11.74 On the issue of farrowing crates, noting that piglet

mortality due to sow overlay is a major welfare consideration, the Committee recommends the encouragement of some producer pilot

systems to test the viability of designs which will allow sows more freedom of movement and access to a separate exercise area

at least some time each day.

11.75 The Committee recommends that governments and the

industry encourage the adoption of alternative approaches to

accommodating sows through their various stages and the

improvement in husbandry skills needed to avoid welfare problems.

11.76 The use of prostaglandins to induce farrowing in pigs is a potential welfare issue. Obviously there are times when

veterinary use is valid and in the best interests of the sow and

her piglets. It is not clear how widespread the practice is but the Committee is aware that prostaglandins are administered to

217

ensure that sows give birth during working hours. The Committee

questions the management practice of birth induction and

recommends that the welfare implications of prostaglandin use be

investigated.

11.77 More broadly the Committee recommends that the

Commonwealth Government fund a research project in Australia to

examine and evaluate housing systems that may be suitable to

Australian conditions and that this review:

(a) examine overseas research findings into alternative

housing systems;

(b) assess the welfare benefits and any welfare

disadvantages of such systems;

(c) evaluate the economic viability of alternative

systems; and

(d) take account of the views of producers, industry service providers, design engineers and specialist

ethologists.

11.78 The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth

Government provide tax incentives to encourage producers to

upgrade their systems to incorporate improved design features to

improve pig welfare.

11.79 Finally the Committee recommends that the appropriate

authorities ensure that regular inspections of intensive pig

production units be undertaken to monitor husbandry practices

generally and to ensure that stocking densities do not exceed

those specified in the Codes of Practice for the welfare of the

pig.

218

ENDNOTES

1. Evidence, Australian Pig Industry Policy Council,

p. S8793.

2. ibid.

3. ibid., p. S8804.

4. ibid., p. S8788.

5. Evidence, ANZFAS, p. S8826.

6. Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals, 1. The

Pig, Australian Bureau of Animal Health, 1983, p. 2.

7. Evidence, Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal

Societies, p. S8853-S8854.

8. ibid., p. S8854-8855.

9. ibid., p. S8855.

10. ibid., p. S8852.

11. ibid., p. S8822, p. S8855.

12. Evidence, Australian Pig Industry Policy Council,

p. S8806.

13. I.J. Lean, 'Pigs', in Management and Welfare of Farm

Animals, The UFAW Handbook, Third Edition, UK 1988,

p. 147.

14. Evidence, Dr J. Blackshaw, University of Queensland,

p. 6830.

219

15. Evidence, NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries,

p. S8697.

16. Evidence, Australian Veterinary Association, p. S9026.

17. ibid.

18. ibid, p. S9031.

19. I.J. Lean, op. cit., p. 148.

20. Evidence, Australian Veterinary Association, p. S9031.

21. Evidence, Australian Veterinary Association, p. S9031.

22. NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, AGFACTS,

Agdex 441/720, 1982, p. 1.

23. ibid.

24. ibid., and Evidence, NSW Department of Agriculture and

Fisheries, p. S8691-2.

25. Evidence, NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries,

p. S8691.

26. ibid.

27. ibid.

28. ibid., p. S8692.

29. ibid.

30. ibid.

31. ibid.

220

32. ibid.

33. ibid.

34. ibid.

35. ibid.

36. ibid.

37 . ibid., p. S8694 .

38. ibid.

39. ibid.

40. ibid.

41. ibid.

42. ibid.

43. ibid.

44 . Evidence, p. S8804.

Australian Pig Industry Policy Council,

45. Evidence, p. S8695.

NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries,

46. ibid.

47. ibid.

48. ibid., pp . S8695-S8696.

49 . ibid., p. S9030.

221

50. ibid.

51. Evidence, Australian Veterinary Association, p. S9030.

52. Evidence, NSW Department of p. S8696.

Agriculture and Fisheries,

53. ibid.

54 . ibid.

55. Model Code of Practice ..The Pig, op. cit., p. 11.

56. Evidence, Australian Pig Industry Policy Council,

pp. S8804-8805.

57. Evidence, Australian and New Societies, p. S8856.

Zealand Federation of Animal

58. ibid., p. S8859.

59 . ibid., p. S8864.

60. ibid., p. 8877 quoting from the United Kingdom's Farm

Animal Welfare Council Report 1988, p. 6.

61. ibid., p. S8866.

62 . ibid., p. S8876.

63. ibid.

64 . ibid., p. S8875-8876.

66. M.R. Muirhead, 'Pig Housing and E n v i r o n m e n t ', Veterinary

R e c o r d , 1983, V o l . 113, UK, pp. 587-593.

66. F.R.W Brambell, op. cit., p. 13.

222

CHAPTER 12

M A N A G E M E N T PRACTICES

Surgical Procedures in the Industry

12.1 The pig industry utilises a number of husbandry

practices which involve surgical procedures. The debate in this

area involve the risks to the welfare of all of those treated

weighted against potential benefits to the proportion which avoid

suffering from injury. The main areas of contention are the

clipping of piglets 'milk teeth' and tail docking. Husbandry

procedures in the industry involve:

• castration; • tail docking;

• clipping of 'needle' teeth;

• nose ringing;

• animal identification;

• tusk trimming; and

• restraint of large stock.

12.2 The Model Code of Practice (Appendix 8) outlines

procedures to be followed when undertaking surgical procedures.1

12.3 The general view of ANZFAS and RSPCA Australia is that

those surgical animal husbandry techniques that only benefit the

human handler of the animals concerned, or that are performed only to overcome the deleterious effects upon animals of severe

animal husbandry regimes, should not be performed.2

12.4 ANZFAS argues that until the last few years there has been little objective information available regarding the level

of pain and stress imposed on animals by the various mutilations

currently in use. Millions of animals are mutilated annually in

223

Australia under the euphemism of 'animal husbandry' yet little

evidence is available to show which procedure or combination of

procedures currently in use is the most humane; and whether the

best available techniques inflict a level of pain and/or stress which is acceptably low.3

Castration

12.5 Castration was a common practice but is rarely

undertaken now. This is because most pigs are now sold before

boar taint develops. Where pigs are slow growing (occasionally in

extensive systems) it may still be undertaken. The NSW Department

of Agriculture and Fisheries submitted that in New South Wales

fewer than one per cent of pigs are now castrated and there are

legal restrictions associated with the castration of boars more than two months of age.4

12.6 Castration of male pigs intended for slaughter is

generally unnecessary under present day production and marketing

conditions because animals can achieve marketable size before any

problems of undesirable sexual behaviour or 'boar taint' in the

meat are met.5

12.7 The Code of Practice recommends that castration should

be avoided whenever possible.**

12.8 Mr Kirsop representing the NSW Department of Agriculture

and Fisheries explained in evidence that the trend away from

castration is due to the growth of intensive production and the

move to selling pigs by fat depth. When pigs were mostly grown

extensively in paddocks they were sexually mature before they

reached market weight. The problem of boar taint becoming

apparent in the meat after eight months was an issue at that

time.7 A barrow is fatter than a gilt or a boar. When the

industry moved to carcass classification it saw the benefit of

not castrating.

224

12.9 The vast majority of pigs are now being sold at five and

a half to six months before they are sexually mature. Mr Treacey from the Victorian Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs

commented in evidence that industry practice changed very quickly

once an assessment was made that the absence of castration was

not going to affect the quality of the product.®

12.10 The RSPCA and ANZFAS view is that should castration of mature animals be considered necessary in some instances they

should be given the same consideration as is given to companion

animals. Castration should be performed only by a specially

trained person using local anaesthetic and appropriate

analgesia.9

Tail Docking

12.11 The practice of tail docking is used to prevent or treat

the problem of tail biting and cannibalism in young and adult pigs. The causes of the problem are poorly understood as it can occur in a range of intensive and extensive husbandry

situations.*0

12.12 ANZFAS is totally opposed to taildocking arguing that

the issue is intimately connected with the general conditions

under which pigs are kept. It argues that tail biting is

essentially a management problem and should be treated as such.

ANZFAS considers that implementation of its recommended reforms

would obviate any need for tail docking. ■ * · ■ * ■

12.13 The RSPCA Australia is generally opposed to the docking

of the tails of any species of animal with the exception of sheep

or in the cases of irreparable injury or disease to the tail.

However it adopts the position that as a minimum requirement

routine tail docking of pigs should be humanely performed by

trained operators.12

225

12.14 The Code of Practice states that where tail biting is a

problem, all aspects of the environment, feeding and management

should be investigated to identify the contributing factors so

that remedial action can be taken. The Code specifies that the

procedure should be carried out before pigs are seven days of age

where it is being performed as a routine preventive measure.13

AFWA submitted that no detailed investigation of the response of

the piglets to the procedure appear to have been made but general

observation strongly suggests that piglets less than seven days

old suffer only minor trauma from the procedure. This body argued

that tail docking usually provides an effective insurance against

the outbreak of tail biting and that given our lack of

understanding of the causal factors the continued use of the

procedure within the provisions of the Code of Practice is warranted.14

12.15 No-one contributing to this inquiry disputed that an

outbreak of tail biting is a serious welfare situation. It is

unpredictable, frightening and horrible to see. Dr Hutson,

confirming that it is not possible to reproduce an outbreak

experimentally because there seems to be so many factors

contributing to an outbreak stated in evidence that:

... There seem to be two sorts of general

phases. What happens is that you have growing pigs and general redirected exploratory behaviour or, if you like, just random

munching - they start randomly chewing on things in the immediate environment which might be, say, the tail or the ear of another pig. If you chew on an ear you are likely to

get some sort of retaliation; if you chew on a tail you find that is probably a safer sort of target. At that stage there is no danger of an outbreak of tail biting but as soon as a wound appears and there is blood, and the pig starts squealing and then waves its tail around, that is a very attractive, powerful stimulus to other pigs to seize and bite, and suddenly you have an explosion of tail biting behaviour.*5

226

12.16 Discussing the causes Dr Hutson said that at the random

munching stage it might be boredom, crowding, and so on. Once the

tail is bitten and the pig waves it about there could be other

causes such as diet. Attraction to blood on the bitten tail could be a cause in leading to a massive outbreak.16

12.17 Dr Cutler (DARA) expressed the view that tail biting is

a consequence of keeping animals together in pens and that it

probably does not matter whether they are inside or outside. What

matters is that an outbreak included results in 'great gaping

holes in the rear of the animal' developing.17

12.18 Dr Blackshaw confirmed the cannibalism horror; pigs

eating right into the hindquarters, and expressed the view that clipping off the end bit of the tail, "the bit that swings

around" removes the temptation to bite. She argued that this end

bit has few nerve endings and pigs are not always aware it is

being bitten while blood is drawn. A bite on the tail further up

is felt immediately and evasive action taken.*8

12.19 In taildocking part of the tail (one to two thirds of length) is removed when piglets are less than one week of age, to

reduce the incidence of tailbiting. More than 85 per cent of

producers dock the tails of their pigs. It is considered to be a

routine preventive measure. The NSW Department of Agriculture and

Fisheries submitted that it has been shown that the incidence of

tailbiting is considerably reduced by docking, and therefore

painful injury to the tail and often serious secondary infections

(which can travel up the spinal cord and affect the whole pig)

are avoided.19

Teeth Clipping

12.20 Clipping of 'needle' teeth involves the sharp premolar

teeth of piglets being clipped at the gumline within the first 2

days of life, to reduce injury to piglets and to the sow's udder,

as piglets fight for the best teats. More than 90 per cent of

227

producers perform this practice as a routine preventive measure.

The NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries submitted that

this practice results in less facial injury and general infection

in suckers and less damage to sow's udders which can result from severe laceration and infections.20

12.21 AFWA submitted that when conducted properly clipping of

needle teeth injures no soft tissue and general observation

strongly suggests that such use of the procedures causes little

more distress than that involved in restraining piglets. The

submission stressed that work by Wilkinson and Blackshaw (1987)

showed that the growth rate and nursing behaviour were not

affected by teeth clipping and that continued use of the

procedure within the guidelines of the Code of Practice is warranted.21

12.22 Discussing the Wilkinson and Blackshaw study ANZFAS

submitted that teeth clipping is a procedure which has become

rapidly entrenched without good scientific data. ANZFAS quotes

from one of the study findings of 16 sows and their litters:

As nursing behaviour, damage scores of the sows and litters and growth rates were not affected by the teeth clipping regime, it appears that the decision to clip teeth does not cause undue stress.22

12.23 ANZFAS argues that this finding could be paraphrased

'since clipping doesn't make any difference, go ahead and clip'.

It is then up to the animal protectionists to prove that

something is bad to have it stopped.23

12.24 ANZFAS highlights the fact that the study cites a

Bundaberg farmer who left piglets unclipped for a trial period

and experienced more teat damage. The farmer concerned was

apparently not convinced that not clipping was the cause of the

increased damage and speculated that seasonal environmental factors may have been responsible.24

2 2 8

12.25 ANZFAS considers the issue of teeth clipping is tightly tied to the general conditions under which pigs are kept.

12.26 Mr Hassab from the NSW Department of Agriculture stated

in evidence that teeth clipping is essential for a number of reasons.

... It reduces the scarring and infection that would occur on piglets' faces when they are competing for a teat. These teeth are razor sharp and when a sow has a big litter

obviously the competition for teating, for milking and for sucking is extremely high. Also these teeth quite often damage the udder

of the sow. So it can cause infection on the udder and that can cause a reduction of milk flow. In terms of the animals being infected from hitting each other on the face with these

sharp eyeteeth, the losses from this can be quite dramatic. I have seen quite a number of piglets die as a result of this infection because it has not been picked up quickly enough ... this situation occurs not only in

intensive situations but also in sows that farrow in a paddock situation as well.25

12.27 Industry representatives argue that damage incurred is the same in feral pigs. The battles for teat order occur in the

wild in just the same way with just the same damage.26 All pigs

scrap initially as they settle into their hierarchy and then

whenever that hierarchy is challenged.27

12.28 Industry representatives and government extension

officers stated in evidence that the greatest stress involved in

teeth clipping is handling. The actual clipping, done with a small pair of nail or bolt cutters is a quick and simple process.

Other Practices

12.29 The practice of nose ringing is performed in some

extensive piggeries to prevent rooting and undermining of sheds

and fences. A ring is placed either through the nasal septum in front of the cartilage (as with a bull ring) or vertically,

through the top of the cartilage on the snout. Effect on the pig

welfare is discomfort if the pig engages in rooting activity.

229

12.30 Identification practices are described below:

a) slap branding (tattooing) is a mandatory practice for

all pigs sold for slaughter, to identify origin of

pigs should disease or pesticide residues be

discovered;

b) ear tattooing is a mandatory practice for stud

breeders to identify pigs individually;

c) ear tags may be used to identify adult stock for ease of management;

d) body tattooing is sometimes performed as a backup, in

case of loss of ear tags;

e) piglets may be ear notched or punched within the

first 7 days of life, to identify their genetic bloodlines.2^

12.31 Identification is necessary for rapid tracing of the

source, essential for disease control (particularly exotic

diseases), and for tracing chemical residues. Property

identification (slap brand) is mandatory for marketing. Pigs can

be left without individual identification, but this makes

management more difficult, and may slow genetic progress.2^

12.32 Tusk trimming is considered to be responsible management

practice. Tusks of boars are cut at the gum line to avoid damage

to sows, other boars and handlers.30

12.33 It is occasionally necessary to restrain large stock to

perform minor surgery. The practice generally is to place a noose

around the upper jaw, and tie the rope to a raised immovable

object. The pig will pull back and usually stand immobile. This

procedure is considered to produce less stress than other methods in both the pig and the handler.31

230

Conclusion

12.34 The Australian Veterinary Association's view is that while all of these 'minor' surgical procedures involve some pain

and thus stress, veterinarians believe that the stress will be

transient if procedural capacity is high, and that the results

enhance welfare of the pig. The procedures rely on the skill of

the operator. There is a requirement for experience and

dexterity, for instruments to be in a high state of readiness and of clean sanitary methods.32

12.35 Dr Johnston, representing the Australian Veterinary Association, stated in evidence that veterinarians are happy with stock persons carrying out the procedures as long as they have

been shown the correct way and as long as they are confined to

the early period of the pigs life. His view was that if such

procedures were confined to veterinary surgeons they would not be

done because of the cost involved.

If that were the case, an awful lot of

suffering would be caused to the pig

population because those minor procedures had not been carried out.33

12.36 The Australian Federation for the Welfare of Animals

supports this view arguing that each husbandry practice involving

mutilations to animals must be considered individually, and the

risks to the welfare of all of those treated weighted against

potential benefits to the proportion which avoid suffering from injury.34

12.37 The debate on this issue was summed up in the submission

to this inquiry from Professor Egan and Dr Hutson from the Animal

Production Section of the School of Agriculture and Forestry at

the University of Melbourne. They argued that in the main, apart

from actions taken to prevent disease, the manipulation of

individual and group behaviour of animals is at the base of

practices involving methods of confinement and procedures such as

castration, tail docking and tooth trimming. The practices are

aimed against what is seen as causes or consequences of

aggressiveness, curiosity, and boredom, as preventive measures.

231

In intensive systems, surgical action is undertaken on very young

animals by skilled, trained personnel to minimize the effects on

the growth of the animal. The trauma is real, although transient

and alternative ways to address the problems are actively sought.

Understanding the behavioural basis and identifying the means to

modify the behaviour form the best approach. They stressed that

there is a need to ensure that research in this area is given

every recognition and encouragement.35

12.38 The Committee has inspected a range of confinement

systems and observed surgical procedures and agrees with this

comment and perspective.

12.39 Accepting that the causes of tail biting are poorly

understood the Committee's view is that the problem clearly is a

consequence of keeping pigs closely penned whether in or out of

doors. While tail biting may be a sign of poor welfare the

welfare implications of an outbreak are such that there seems to

be little choice in the matter. The Committee agrees that the

continued use of the tail docking procedure within the provision

of the Code of Practice is warranted. The Committee, noting that

taildocking involves some pain and stress, recommends that

stockpersons are properly trained in the procedure, so that the task is undertaken with dexterity and with as little trauma to

the pig as possible. The Committee recommends that further

research into the causal factors of tailbiting be undertaken as

the issue is so closely linked to overall aspects of pig welfare

in close confinement production.

12.40 On the issue of teeth clipping the Committee believes

that due to the potential for milk and piglet loss which can

result from infections of needle teeth lacerations the continued

use of the teeth clipping procedure within the provision of the

Code of Practice is warranted. However the Committee is surprised

at the high susceptibility to infection which apparently occurs

in intensive systems and noting the emphasis placed on the health

benefits of intensive production, recommends that further

research be conducted into the underlying reasons for infection

that necessitates teeth clipping.

232

ENDNOTES

1. Model Code of Practice for The Pig, p. 9-10. See

Appendix 8.

2. Evidence, Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to

Animals, p. S9090.

3. Evidence, Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal

Societies, p. S8854-5 and S8904-S8921.

4. Evidence, NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries,

p. S8698.

5. Evidence, Australian Federation for the Welfare of

Animals, p.S 8941

6. Model Code of Practice, op. cit., p. 9.

7. Evidence, NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries,

p. 9256.

8. Evidence, Victorian Department of Agriculture and Rural

Affairs, p. 9407.

9. Evidence, Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, p.S9094, Australian and New Zealand Federation of

Animal Societies, p.S 8916

10. Evidence, Australian Federation for the Welfare of

Animals, p. 8940.

11. Evidence, Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal

Societies, p. 8852, p. 8917.

12. Evidence, Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to

Animals Australia, p. S9096, S9102.

233

13. Model Code of Practice, op. cit., p. 9.

14. Evidence, Australian Federation for the Welfare of Animals, pp. 8940-8941.

15. Evidence, Dr Hutson, University of Melbourne,

pp. 9499-9500.

16. ibid., p. 9500.

17. Evidence, Victorian Department of Agricultural and Rural Affairs, pp. 9399-9400.

18. Evidence, Dr J. Blackshaw, University of Queensland, p. 6855-6.

19. Evidence, NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, p. 8699.

20. ibid.

21. Evidence, Australian Federation for the Welfare of Animals, p. S8941.

22. Evidence, Aust r a l i a n and N e w Zealand Federation of Animal Societies, p. 8916.

23. ibid.

24. ibid.

25. Evidence, NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries,

p. 9249.

26. Evidence, Australian Pig Industry Policy Council,

pp. 9425-9426.

234

27. Evidence, Mr Brian Healy, NSW Department of Agriculture

and Fisheries, p. 9253.

28. Evidence, NSW Department of Agriculture, p. S8700.

29. ibid., p. S8701.

30. ibid.

31. ibid., p. S8702.

32. Evidence, Australian Veterinary Association, p. S9029.

33. ibid., p. 9581.

34. Evidence, Australian Federation for the Welfare of

Animals, p. 8940.

35. Evidence, p. S8928.

235

CHAPTER 13

OFF-FARM HANDLING

Transport and Handling Stresses

13.1 Aspects of the welfare of the pig from farm gate to

slaughter were discussed during this inquiry. The Australian Veterinary Association submitted that during this period the pig

can be subject to great stress and that many transporters and abattoir workers are unaware of the effects of their practices on

pigs.

13.2 Specific recommendations made by the Australian

Veterinary Association are:

(i) that welfare of the pig would be improved, both in transport to and in handling at an abattoir, if workers involved were made more aware of the effects of stress on the pig;

(ii) that handling would be greatly improved and thus stress reduced, by capital expenditure on suitable truck crate design and on loading/unloading facilities and abattoir race designs;

(iii) that improved killing facilities are required in some abattoirs;

(iv) that electrical stunning is considered to be the best and most humane form of rendering the pig unconscious prior to the actual slaughter process, but there is need for continuous vigilance by

abattoir management to ensure that equipment is used correctly by operators.1

13.3 Animals being transported by road are subjected to a

number of stresses which may have cumulative effects. Stressful

influences may include:

• yarding and handling;

• deprivation of food and water;

237

changes in climatic conditions;

• overcrowding or isolation, unfamiliar surroundings,

noises and sensations;

• insufficient care during road transportation; and

• physiological responses associated with pregnancy.2

Australian Agreed Standards

13.4 The Model Code of Practice makes the following

observations and recommendations concerning loading, stocking

densities, waiting periods during loading, transit, rest periods

and unloading at the point of destination.

Loading of pigs for transport presents special problems, particularly if they are not

accustomed to being herded. Patience is essential and proper design of yards, loading ramp and other associated services will facilitate loading with minimum distress and bruising.

A canvas slapper is the best tool for moving pigs. Electric prods should be used sparingly.

It is recommended that the following classes be transported or penned separately:

• young piglets;

• sows with piglets;

• adult boars;

• unfamiliar groups with pigs (where

possible); and

• sows in advanced pregnancy.

Packing of animals either too loosely or too tightly in stock crates predisposes them to injury; partitions should be used to reduce the likelihood of injury.

238

The density of l o ading of animals in stock

c rates should be determined by the need to

m i n i m i s e injury but allow cast animals to rise

w i t h assistance.

T he driver is responsible for e n suring that

the loading d e n s i t y and penning arrangements

are compatible w i t h the welfare of the animals

a nd the capacity of the vehicle.

Recommended Lo a d i n g Density D u r i n g Road

Transport

Use the following table when the temperature is below 25°C. Pigs need about 10 per cent more floor area in a truck when the

temperature is over 25°C.

Average Weight (kg) Floor Area (m^/head)

Number of Head Per 12.2 m (40 ft) Deck

50 0.22 132

75 0.29 100

100 0.35 83

125 0.42 69

150 0.48 60

175 0.55 53

200 0.61 48

(Conversion factor: 1.0 m^ = 10.8 ft^)

Pigs are susceptible to extremes of heat and cold. In very hot weather (38°C or more) it is undesirable to transport pigs. If transport is undertaken during hot weather, shade should be provided and the vehicle should be well

ventilated. When the vehicle is stationary shade should be provided or pigs should be unloaded promptly as heat will build up

rapidly within an enclosed stock crate.

Consideration should be given to the need for, and effectiveness of, roofing or shadecloth

o v e r vehicles operating in tropical areas to

r e d u c e heat stress in animals. In c old weather

s t r a w or other dry bedding is desirable, and

pigs should be protected from w ind and rain.

Pigs should be unloaded as soon as possible after arrival at the destination. All pigs should be given access to water when unloaded including those consigned directly for

slaughter. Pigs to be held in yards for 24 hours or longer should also be provided with feed.^

239

Discussion of Issues

13.5 The AVA contends that stresses likely to be involved

during the handling of pigs at abattoirs, may be exacerbated

because the pigs are likely to be in the control of workers even

more remote from the concepts of good husbandry practice and

animal welfare than are truck drivers. Lairage, that is, the

practice of holding pigs prior to slaughter for up to 24 hours,

is an extremely stressful period for pigs and should be reduced

to as short a time as is practicable.*

13.6 All participants to this inquiry agree that because of

the inevitable suffering associated with the transport of pigs

the slaughter of these food animals should be as near as possible

to the point of production and that handling and slaughtering at

abattoirs should be carried out in a humane and considerate manner.

13.7 The Australian Pig Industry Policy Council submitted

that the pig industry has been concerned to improve transport and

handling of pigs and in both NSW and Queensland producers have

initiated action to produce recommendations for improved

transport and handling of pigs. Codes of Practice for abattoirs and sale yards are currently being finalised. The Pig Research

Council has sponsored:

• research into the pre-slaughter treatment of pigs;

• visits to Australia by acknowledged experts in the

design of animal handling and lairage facilities; and

• a session of the 'World Meat Science Congress' in

Brisbane in late 1988 dealing specifically with the stunning of pigs.5

240

13.8 Mr Hassab, NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, reported in evidence that most transport carriers and most

farmers who cart their own pigs are very aware of providing pigs with good transport because they realise the problems that can

occur, such as deaths in transport. Deaths during transport of

pigs can occur if they are not handled correctly. Most farmers and most stock transporters carry pigs carefully and efficiently

because they realise that there is an economic involvement in that the correct handling procedures will give a better dressing-out percentage. He reported that pigs are generally

loaded and transported during the very early morning, at night or

late evening because of the adverse effects that extreme summer

temperatures can have on pigs in transit. In terms of the lairage

pens in abattoirs, there has been a concerted effort by most abattoirs throughout New South Wales to improve the lairage

conditions. These improvements have been provided by better unloading facilities, better movement lanes, better drainage and

better flooring within the lairage pens.6

13.9 Mr Hassab stated that bruising does not appear to be a serious problem in the pig industry. Providing the transport -

the trucks that the pigs are carried on - and the laneways and the unloading races and the holding lairage pens are sound and do

not have any protrusions, it is generally rare to find pigs being

bruised. Most abattoirs throughout New South Wales are very

conscious of providing very good lairage pens and holding

facilities.7

13.10 The Committee sought to clarify whether intensively

housed pigs exhibit greater signs of stress during mixing and

loading for transport to sale yards or abattoirs. Dr Blackshaw

stated that the view that pigs are stressed due to being moved from a dimly lit environment is not applicable in Australia.

Australian piggeries are in full daylight and many of them have

natural ventilation. Transference to the outside is not

significantly different:

241

•.. Certainly pigs are stressed when you mix. them. Usually, you load a group of pigs which have lived together as growers in groups of 12 or maybe 16 - they go on the truck together.

If you do load them like that you tend not to get as much fighting as you would if they were just taken at random from different parts of the piggery, which does not usually happen in the pig industry.®

13.11 She referred to the code of practice for the movement of

domestic animals which recommends that animals are mixed several

days before transport.9

13.12 Doctors Johnston and Holder representing AVA expressed

the view in evidence that the arrangements and the Acts governing

transport of pigs are probably adequate. They argued that the

problem in the area really relates to people who do not have an

understanding of how to handle the animals and are probably not

really trained suitably in what they are doing. In most cases

transport is adequate but it gets back to the individual. There

are very good individual transport drivers who have a very great concern for the animals they are transporting, and there are

others who do not. Many of the transporters of livestock are

self-employed people. They know that their livelihood depends on

delivering stock to their destination in good condition.·'·®

13.13 Dr Holder underlined this point and highlighted AVA's

general view of handling of pigs off-farm:

... Certainly any clients of mine who knew that the transport person was not looking after their animals after they, the owners, had put six months into looking after them very adequately would very quickly show that particular transporter the door. I think, however, that there is a very small proportion of transporters who are not directly relating to owners and who may convey stock under less than adequate conditions. This is why the point is made in our submission that, firstly, there should be a greater awareness of the requirements being more generally known - and this can only be by education - and, secondly,

I believe there is a case to be made for, say, a disinterested party like a government veterinarian at the receiving point, the abattoir, to be given greater rights and responsibilities in terms of directing what

242

should be done with animals rather than just advising on what should be done with

animals.H

13.14 The Australian Veterinary Association believes that deficiencies in the transport of pigs to abattoirs and their

handling at abattoirs impact directly on the pigs, placing them very often under undue stress. AVA stresses the need for better

education of transporters and abattoir workers so that stress

levels might be reduced. Handling facilities, both on transports

and at abattoirs, often are less than adequate. Government

veterinarians employed at abattoirs should be given more power to direct that handling methods and facilities be improved when found to be deficient.12

Conclusion

13.15 The Committee did not investigate off-farm handling of

pigs in detail nor undertake inspections of loading, transport,

lairage, and abattoir arrangements and facilities. Obviously many sectors of the industry have an interest in the proper marketing

of pigs and there are economic as well as welfare advantages to

minimising stress during all of these stages.

13.16 The Committee, noting the importance of a multi-sector

approach to strategies to minimise stress, deaths, and decrease

yield and quality losses during post-farm handling of pigs, recommends a State and Territory wide multi-sectoral review of

off-farm handling of pigs with a view to upgrading existing codes of practice and disseminating information to service providers, producers, transporters, abattoirs and other interested parties.

The review process should take account of the views of animal

welfare organisations and specialist ethologists.

13.17 The Committee recommends that in addition to ensuring

that information is widely disseminated on the proper handling of

pigs from farm loading to slaughter, adequate monitoring should

also be undertaken to ensure compliance with the provisions of

the Codes of Practice associated with the transport and slaughter

of livestock.

243

ENDNOTES

1. Evidence, Australian Veterinary Association, pp. S9028-9029.

2. Standing Committee on Agriculture, Model Code of Practice

for the Welfare of Animals No. 3 Road Transport of

Livestock, 1983, p. 16.

3. ibid., pp. 10-11, p. 16.

4. Evidence, Australian Veterinary Association, p. S9028.

5. Evidence, Australian Pig Industry Policy Council,

p. S8809.

6. Evidence, NSW Department of Agriculture and Fisheries,

pp. 9263-9264.

7. ibid., p. 9264.

8. Evidence, Dr J. Blackshaw, Univ e r s i t y of Queensland,

p. 6859.

9. ibid.

10. Evidence, Australian Veterinary Association,

pp. 9567-9568.

11. ibid., p. 9568.

12. ibid., p. 9561.

244

PART FOUR

THE WAY FORWARD

245

CHAPTER 14

STOCKMANSHIP, EDUCATION AND TRAINING

Introduction

14.1 One of the important processes of animal domestication

is adaptation to man. The progress achieved in this process can

be judged from the substantial difference that exists between

domestic stocks of animals and their wild counterparts in their

flight distance to humans. With the development to

intensification of production systems a higher level of contact

with humans has been imposed on the animal than that which normally occurs in the traditional extensive system of

production. In the modern systems there are considerable

opportunities for periods of intense interaction between

stockpersons and their stock.1

14.2 Although little is known of the human factors which may influence this interaction there is evidence that the

relationship can affect productivity and physiology and hence the

welfare of farm animals.2 As Werribee researchers have noted some

of the behavioural patterns of humans involved in routine

husbandry may be threatening and when regularly imposed may

produce a chronic stress response. Whenever a sustained elevation

of free corticosteriods occur both the productivity and welfare of the animal may be compromised.3

1 4 . 3 Evidence received by the Committee from all sources

suggest that high standards of stockmanship are essential to the

welfare of animals in intensive systems. Dr Wirth, President of

the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

Australia, among others, argued that stockmen play the "key role" in any production system.4 The RSPCA also noted that the

influence of poor stockmanship on the welfare of animals in an

247

intensive production system is well recognised and is more

damaging than in an extensive system because of the greater

number of animals involved. Alternatively, a good stockman will

dramatically improve the welfare of animals even where there are

poor facilities.5

14.4 Dr Cutler from the Department of Agriculture and Rural

Affairs also argued that a good stockman can make a terrible

system work effectively for the welfare of the animal and a poor stockman can make the best system in the world work appallingly

for the animal. He and other Departmental representatives

emphasised the importance of 'stock sense'.6

14.5 The Codes of Practice for the welfare of the pig and the

domestic fowl refer in their respective introductions to the need

for responsible management and day-to-day care and note that:

The importance of competent stockmanship in animal welfare cannot be over-emphasised and those responsible should seek expert opinion when fowls [pigs] are in ill-health. Managers are encouraged to treat their animals

efficiently and with consideration.7

14.6 Given its importance in intensive systems there should

be more than just introductory emphasis in the Codes of Practice.

14.7 Stockmanship involves stock sense (a knowledge of,

rapport with and ability to observe animals) and skill in stock tasks (the practical aspects of handling, care and manipulation

of animals). A good stockperson should be observant, patient,

informed about animals and their needs, skilful in stock tasks,

able to recognise health and disease states, and be knowledgeable

about the workings of mechanised feed and water systems and

environmental control equipment and the measures to take when

they fail.®

248

Poultry

14.8 The Australian Veterinary Association emphasised that

good stockmanship was essential to poultry welfare. The

Association argued that people responsible for the care of

poultry must be well-trained, experienced and dedicated. They must know and understand the normal appearance and behaviour of

their flocks and the physical needs of the birds. Ignorance,

inexperience or indifference can result in management practices

detrimental to the welfare of poultry.9

14.9 Poultry researcher Dr Linda Murphy submitted that:

The human operator - the stock person - is without doubt the single most important factor in the birds' environment influencing their welfare. People design, construct, maintain

and operate (or fail to maintain and operate) the building, equipment and any outside areas where the birds live. People control the conditions of temperature, humidity, light,

noise, dust and ammonia that birds are exposed to and determine the quantity and quality of feed and water they receive. People physically handle birds and have to recognise ill-health or injury. They decide whether or not to treat

the birds and in what way.10

14.10 Some evidence received by the Committee suggested there

were deficiencies in the standards of poultry stockmanship in

Australia.

14.11 Dr Murphy argued that in Australia people with no

practical experience or formal training in either animal or

technical skills may start up a livestock production unit.11 She suggested this was particularly serious in the layer industry

because:

... it is up to the individual farmer. In the layer industry there is no competition. There is a wide range of levels of efficiency and management in the layer industry, and some

people are content not to do so well. There is no pressure on them at the moment whatsoever to do any better.12

249

14.12 Dr Murphy noted that improvements to the standards of

stockmanship could be made by having people assessed for their

knowledge of birds' basic physiology, anatomy, and behaviour as

well as their suitability for working with stock assessed.*3 jn

some European countries attention is being given to improving the

skills of stockmanship. For instance, in Denmark, a potential

poultry farm buyer must have certain educational

qualifications.14

14.13 Dr Murphy also suggested that many of the alternative

housing systems for poultry (e.g. aviary systems) currently being

developed have tended to give inadequate attention to the needs

of those who work in these systems. This may be potentially a

serious problem for if the people find the environment unpleasant

or awkward to work in they are unlikely to perform as efficiently and conscientiously as they otherwise might.15

14.14 There are many opportunities for people to learn the

theoretical and practical skills which are necessary to look

after poultry properly. Commercial poultry companies generally

employ well-trained and experienced supervisors, provide in-house

training for their own staff, and demand competence and

dedication from their staff and contractors. Hatcheries and feed mills offer professional advisory and backup services for their

clients. State Departments of Agriculture and Primary Industries

provide advisory extension and veterinary services, husbandry

courses and seminars, and technical bulletins. Several magazines

covering local and overseas trends and techniques in poultry

production are available by subscription to poultry farmers.

14.15 Some who gave evidence to the Committee suggested the

training and support services for poultry operators was adequate.

14.16 Dr Sheldon representing Australian Federation for the

Welfare of Animals told the Committee that he believed the

training systems were adequate and that there were good courses

available at the University of Western Sydney's Hawkesbury

campus, at Gatton College in Queensland and at a variety of other

agricultural colleges around Australia.

250

14.17 Other evidence, however, suggested there was a need for

improvement in some areas. The Australian Veterinary Association argued that some poultry producers, particularly those involved

in smaller commercial operations were not aware of or did not

take advantage of the opportunities that currently existed to improve their stockmanship.*7

14.18 Dr Murphy suggested that the courses currently existing

in poultry husbandry do not put any emphasis on stockmanship and

there are no traineeships in the poultry industry. Citing the example of beak trimming she noted that the people teaching

others to become beak trimmers were:

Presumably the people already doing it. That is a good case in point: that is a procedure which can be done well and it can be done

badly, and it does happen both ways. There is no-one looking over it to see how well it is done.

Pigs

14.19 Evidence and research on intensive pig production stressed that as pigs are intelligent and responsive a good attitude in the stockperson is important. Industry studies of the

human factors responsible for increasing the level of fear have

found very strong relationships between the attitude of the

stockperson towards pigs and the behaviour of the stockperson

towards pigs. It is the attitude towards the pig that

predominantly determines how the stockperson will behave.*9

14.20 Research has shown that if pigs react in an adverse way

to stockpersons caring for them their reproductive performance will fall.20 Stereotypic behaviour increases when there is poor

stockmanship.2^

251

14.21 AFWA submitted that research in this area has been

extended to the commercial situation to examine the practical

implications of high levels of fear of humans by commercial pigs.

... In a recent study of 19 commercial farms in Australia (Hemsworth, Barnett, Coleman & Hansen, 1989) the relationships between behaviour of the stockperson towards female pigs around the time of mating, the level of

fear of humans and productivity of pigs were examined. The level of fear of humans by pigs at some commercial farms was similar to the level resulting from aversive handling in controlled experiments, and this finding has serious implications for the productivity and welfare of pigs in the industry. In fact, as

in a previous study (Hemsworth, Brand & Willems, 1981b), it was found that highly significant negative correlations between the level of fear of humans by sows and the

reproductive performance of the farm: Sows displayed a decreased approach to the

experimenter (i.e. higher fear) at farms where reproductive performance was low. These findings indicate there may be considerable potential to improve productivity and perhaps welfare in the industry by reducing the pig's level of fear of humans.22

14.22 Clearly there are two important components in good pig

stockmanship. The first is technical skills and knowledge of the

stockperson and the second aspect is stock-sense or empathy

concerning the animals being managed.23

14.23 The Australian Pig Industry Policy Council advised in evidence that people employed in the industry received on the job

training and that this was seen by everyone as an important

aspect of employment. It was agreed that some people are

naturally gifted in terms of stock-sense but through education

most people can improve their awareness and competency in

handling pigs.

252

Conclusion

14.24 The Committee is convinced that humane stockmanship is a

key ingredient in intensive production systems and that better

education and training of stockpersons are likely methods that

could be employed in the future to avoid risks to welfare. There is an obvious need to continue research in this area and to

develop training programs based on a deeper understanding of

animal behaviour.

The Committee therefore recommends:

(a) that the subject of animal behaviour be recognised

as an integral component of the curriculum in agricultural and veterinary colleges in Australia,

especially as a component of welfare;

(b) the development of certificate training courses for

stockpersons in the pig and poultry industries by Technical and Further Education and agricultural

college courses;

(c) funding initiatives be developed to support skills

training of stockpersons unable to gain access to

formal training courses; and

(d) the Pig Industry Research Council, the Chicken Meat

Research Council and the Egg Industry Research

Council give greater priority to welfare-related

stockmanship research.

14.25 The Committee also recommends that the Codes of Practice

be revised to take account of advances in the understanding of

the importance of stockmanship in the welfare of animals in

intensive systems.

253

ENDNOTES

1. P.H. Hemsworth and J.L. Barnett, 'The Human-Animal

Relationship and Its Importance in Pig Production', Pig

News and Information, 1987, Vol. 8, No. 2, p. 133.

2. P.H. Hemsworth, J.L. Barnett and C. Hausen, 'The Influence

of Handling by Humans on the Behaviour, Reproduction and Corticosteroids of Male and Female Pigs', in Applied

Animal Behaviour Science, Vol. 15, 1986, p. 303.

3. ibid., p. 312.

4. Evidence, Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to

Animals Australia, p. 9592.

5. ibid., p. S9100.

6. Evidence, Victorian Department of Agricultural and Rural Affairs, p. 9406.

7. Australian Bureau of Animal Health, 1983, Model Code of

Practice for the Welfare of Animals 1. The Pig, p. 2 and 2. Domestic Fowl, p. 2.

8. R. Ewbank, 'Animal Welfare', in Management and Welfare of

Animals: The UFAW Handbook, Balliere Tindall, London,

1988, p. 8.

9. Evidence, Australian Veterinary Association, p. S8768.

10. Evidence, Dr L. Murphy, Poultry Researcher, p. S8960.

11. ibid., p. S8966.

12. ibid., p. 9548.

254

ibid. 13.

14. ibid., p. S8966.

15. ibid.

16. Evidence, Australian Federation for the Welfare of

Animals, p. 9531.

17. Evidence, Australian Veterinary Association, p. 8769

18. Evidence, Dr L. Murphy, Poultry Researcher, p. 9549.

19. Evidence, Australian Pig Industry Policy Council, p.

20. Evidence, Australian Veterinary Association, p. 9566

21. Evidence, Australian Pig Industry Policy Council, p.

22. Evidence, Australian Federation for the Welfare of

Animals, pp. S8939-S8940.

23. Evidence, Australian Pig Industry Policy Council, p.

24. ibid., P· 9447

25. ibid., P· 9448

9449

9424

9448

255

CHAPTER 15

LEGISLATION AND REGULATION

Codes of Practice and Self Regulation

15.1 All Australian States and Territories have legislation for the prevention of cruelty to animals. In addition, and in

recent years, they have adopted codes of practice for the welfare

of animals some of which are enshrined in law. The Police and

specified officers of the RSPCA are empowered under these Acts to

take action in cases of cruelty.

15.2 Strong views were expressed in this inquiry about law

enforcement and self-regulation in this area. The industries believe that codes of practice as they currently exist are

adequate and that self-regulation works in these industries.1

Animal welfare organisations argue that codes should have the force of law;2 ANZFAS arguing that the least violation be made

the prima facie evidence of an offence and the onus should then be on the person who has violated it to indicate that there was

no suffering caused by that violation.3

15.3 The existing formal codes of practice, developed in the

early 1980s based on Model Codes of Practice for the Welfare of

Animals, were developed after considerable discussion within the

industries.

15.4 These Model Codes of Practice for the Welfare of Animals

were prepared by the Sub-Committee on Animal Welfare of the

Animal Health Committee within the Australian Agricultural

Council system and issued by the Commonwealth Department of

Primary Industry in 1983. Membership of the Sub-Committee

comprised representatives from each of the State Departments with

responsibility for agriculture, CSIRO, Commonwealth Department of

257

Health, Australian Bureau of Animal Health and other committees

within the Australian Agricultural Council. The Codes were

intended as models to enable the States to develop codes of practice to meet their individual needs.

15.5 These welfare codes are accepted in the industries as

being the standards by which pig and poultry husbandry and post

farm gate handling should be measured. The States have developed

codes based on the Models. Input to the Codes was given by

veterinarians working directly in these industries, government

veterinarians and by other proponents working close to the industry.

Regular Review of Codes of Practice

15.6 The preface to the Codes state that recommendations are

based on the knowledge and technology available at the time of

publication and may need to be reviewed in the light of advances

in the understanding of animal physiology and behaviour,

technological changes in animal husbandry and their relationships to the welfare of animals.

15.7 The Committee recommends that to ensure that Codes of

Practice remain relevant there should be continuing revision as

appropriate and major reviews every five years to take account of

technological changes in husbandry practices, include advances in

the understanding of domestic fowl and pig physiology and

behaviour, and to reflect prevailing community attitudes. Codes

should include statements on the importance of suitable education

and training in avoiding risks to welfare in intensive systems.

The review process should take account of the views of the

industries, industry service providers, consumer and animal welfare organisations, and specialist ethologists.

258

Codes of Practice and Legislation

15.8 The Committee has considered the question of enshrining

all codes in law and the need for a uniform approach throughout Australia. The Committee believes that it is important to have a situation where codes may be quickly modified or upgraded and

favours a situation which allows ease of amendment but which provides a legal context. The Committee believes that legislation

should specify that codes must be followed.

15.9 Noting that each State and Territory Government has the

responsibility to implement policies and enact and upgrade existing legislation which it thinks will best enhance animal

welfare within its jurisdiction the Committee recommends:

(a) legislation for the prevention of cruelty to

animals and other relevant Acts specify that Codes

of Practice for the welfare of animals must be

followed; and

(b) that State and Territory Governments around

Australia develop a complementary legislative and

regulatory approach to animal welfare.

259

ENDNOTES

1. Evidence, Australian Federation for the Welfare of

Animals, pp. 9531-3 and Australian Pig Industry Policy

Council p. 8799, Australian Council of Egg Production p.

S8145-6, 8714, Australian Poultry Industries Association,

p. 8743.

2. Evidence, Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to

Animals, p. 9590-1.

3. Evidence, Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal

Societies, p. 9490-1.

260

CHAPTER 16

CONC L U S I O N

Introduction

16.1 Animal welfare is of increasing relevance to the farming industry. It is vital both for the health and well-being of the animals involved, and for the financial future of the farming

industry that an increasing and critical interest be taken in that mixture of economic, scientific, ethical, aesthetic and

practical concepts which make up the complex subject of animal

welfare, and that action be taken on the new knowledge and ideas

thus gained.1

16.2 Animal health, well-being and productivity in intensive industries begins with the appropriateness of the constructed environment. Housing systems, fittings and appliances need to

meet not only the specifications to accommodate the physiological

capabilities of animals but also the specifications drawn up to

recognise the effects of environmental stimuli on behavioural

patterns of individual animals and groups.2

16.3 Economic conditions and social standards change and

production systems must evolve to meet new needs. Science can be

made to work as much for the benefit of the animals as for their

production. High technology applied in animal husbandry need not

entail negative effects. Computer controlled detection systems

can assist welfare by the monitoring of animals as well as providing personalised feeding regimes; in the case of sows

enabling groups as opposed to individual stalls.3

261

Standards for Husbandry Systems

16.4 However, concern about the possible impact of

technological advances on farm animal well-being is valid and

raises the question of standards being set for systems in

commercial use. Cage systems are an obvious area requiring some

sort of standards test before market release. Noting that

standards are set for a range of commodities which are released

onto the market the Committee recommends that governments with

responsibility in this area develop standards for new and modified animal husbandry systems.

Activists and Ethologists

16.5 It has been very apparent during this inquiry that it is not only animal welfare activists who have been at the forefront of the concern for food animals. The animal welfare lobby has

assisted the focus on the physiological and behavioural needs of

farm animals but the concerns have also been agriculturally

based. As Professor Egan stated in evidences

... The animal welfare lobby has had a very

positive and beneficial effect. It has forced along things that were drifting or that were not happening at all, and I take my hat off to it. I also take my hat off to the ethologists who, long before the animal welfare lobby existed, were saying that there is another part of animal productions systems that really has not been looked at ... These people have

been the leaders of the true basis of

behaviour studies and what welfare is about for 40 years and more - long before it became popular to make assumptions about what is good and what is bad. What I worry about is that animal welfare is led by people who make

assumptions. One good thing that comes out of that is that it draw's people's attention to the fact that here is an assumption that needs to be addressed and laid to rest or,

alternatively, taken apart so that you can analyse it for the components of it that are real as opposed to the components of it that are misguided opinions.4

262

Perceptions and Reactions

16.6 This is a very complex subject and the average person

could not be expected to be well-informed on all aspects

involved. As Professor C. Spedding from the Department of

Agriculture, University of Reading in the United Kingdom has pointed out, in a civilised democracy we are all expected to hold

views on a host of subjects about which we know very little. We are therefore open to propaganda and, in consequence, have to be

suspicious of what we are told - including what we are told by

scientists and, especially, about what we are told by interested parties.®

16.7 In these circumstances, he argues, it is easier to be certain that you are against something than that you are in

favour of it. Thus members of the public may be against battery

cages for hens because they perceive attributes that they

dislike, disapprove of, find unacceptable or will not tolerate.

"The same would be true of any one of us faced with a mistreated

baby or dog. We may know nothing about either and may not know what should be done, but we have no doubt that what we see is

wrong or unacceptable."®

16.8 Nor would our attitudes be affected in the slightest by

any claims that we cannot know that anything is suffering unless'

some objective scientific test has been applied or some research

carried out. Indeed we would be affronted most by any suggestion

that we should suspend judgement until more research had been

done to devise an objective test.

... It is because a citizen ought to have

views over the whole range of activities in society, that he cannot possibly be

well-informed about them all. It is thus no use expecting him to propose what is better; that is the inescapable responsibility of those concerned with production, and

especially of those who benefit from it

directly. Indeed, the recognition of this responsibility and its ready and recognised acceptance are almost certainly the main basis

on which public trust can be built."7

263

16.9 The Committee was constantly reminded during this

inquiry of the complexity of the issues and of the implications

of over or under reaction. It was warned on the one hand of the

dangers of the emotional response, for example, if something

looks bad then it must be and it should be changed. As Dr

Blackshaw warned "the trouble is if you do things on emotional

grounds you may end up with something worse than what you think

you have".®

16.10 On the other hand, the Committee was urged to recognise

that on ethical grounds the current intensive confinement systems

for farm animals have gone too far. As Dr Wirth, President, RSPCA

Australia, warned:

... the issue of cruelty to animals is a

matter of ethics ... The scientific people would say that unless you can prove

conclusively and scientifically using various tests or procedures that a system is cruel, it is ipso facto not cruel and therefore should be allowed to continue.®

16.11 The problem is that all animal production systems

contain elements of stress. Some of those who are concerned about

welfare express the opinion that the only adequate conditions are

those which exist in the wild. This argument often leads people

»to assume that extensive conditions are good and intensive

conditions are bad for welfare. Extensive systems, and indeed the

conditions in the wild, can lead to major welfare problems, for

example, predation, extreme physical conditions or disease.1® The

welfare of housed animals can be good, and it is important to try

to devise conditions for animals which are based on their welfare

rather than on preconceived ideas about the surroundings in which

they will look right.

264

C o mmunity Educ a t i o n

16.12 The Committee believes that the community should be made

more aware of the problematical issues associated with welfare

and intensive livestock production. It considers that the

National Consultative Committee on Animal Welfare and the State

and Territory Animal Welfare Advisory Committees have a role in

this area.

16.13 The National Consultative Committee on Animal Welfare

has an important national role to play at the Commonwealth level.

Its major functions are to assess and advise on the national

implications of welfare issues, the effectiveness and

appropriateness of national codes of practice, and policies, guidelines and legislation to safeguard or further the welfare of

animals.

National Consultative C o mmittee on Animal W e l f a r e

16.14 The Committee commends the Commonwealth Government for establishing the National Consultative Committee on Animal

Welfare and expresses the hope that its staffing and budget

resources will be sufficient for it to perform its functions

effectively.

Conclusion

16.15 Animal welfare is part of the growing community concern

for the environment and for the quality of life of both humans

and animals. As the Commonwealth Government noted in its response

to this Committee's Sheep Husbandry report:

... changes in our approach to the utilisation of animals are inevitable and ... it is vital for Commonwealth and State Governments, producers, scientists, animal welfare and conservation groups to work together to ensure

265

that animal production remains sustainable in the face of mounting community concerns about animal welfare and conservation and protection of the environment.H

16.16 The Committee endorses this view and hopes that this

report assists in turning what has become a polarised debate into

a harmonised approach to the welfare problems in intensive

livestock production.

$. L L

Senator A.R. Devlin

Chairman

266

ENDNOTES

1. R. Ewbank, 'Animal Welfare', Management and Welfare of

Farm Animals, The UFAW Handbook, Bailliere Tindall,

London, 1988, p. 11.

2. Evidence, Professor A.R. Egan and Dr G.D. Hutson,p. S8928.

3. Dr G. van Fatten, 'Technical Developments, Ethical

Considerations and Behavioural Problems' in Farm Animal

Protection - The Practical Way Forward, Proceedings of the

Fourth European Conference on the Protection of Farm

Animals, 1988, pp. 20-21.

4. Evidence, Professor Egan, University of Melbourne,

p. 9512.

5. Professor C. Spedding, Department of Agriculture, University of Reading, 'Marketing the Welfare Label:

Meeting Needs and Demand', in Farm Animal Welfare - The

Practical Way Forward, op. cit., p. 37.

6. ibid.

7. ibid.

8. Evidence, Dr Blackshaw, University of Queensland, p. 6863.

9. Evidence, Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to

Animals Australia, p. 9599.

10. D.M. Broom, 'The Scientific Assessment of Animal Welfare',

in Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 20 (1988) Amsterdam,

p. 15.

11. 'Government's Response to the Report of the Senate Select

Committee on Animal Welfare on Sheep Husbandry', tabled in

the Senate 10 May 1990, p. 2.

267

A P PENDIX 1.

L I S T OF WITNESSES W H O A P P E A R E D BEFORE THE COMMITTEE (Intensive Live s t o c k Production)

Animal Liberation Tasmania Inc. Represented by: Mrs Pamela Clarke, President

Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal Societies Inc. Represented by: Professor P.A.D. Singer, Vice-President Dr J.H. Auty, Honorary Technical Adviser

Australian Bureau of Animal Health Represented by: Mr R.W. Gee, Director Dr H.R.C. Meischke, Acting Principal Veterinary Officer, Special Projects

Mr J.H. Auty, Acting Assisstant Director Mr B.L. Moore, Acting Senior Veterinary Officer, Animal Welfare

Egg Producers Mr G.D. Stewart, Councillor Dr V.G. Kite, Executive Officer, Egg Producers Section, New South Wales

Farmers Association Mr N. Holland, Chairman Mr H. McMaster, Executive Officer

Australian Federation for the Welfare of Animals Represented by: Dr G. Alexander, Convener Dr B.L. Sheldon, President of Member Group

Australian Pig Industry Policy Council Represented by: Mr G.T. Hope, Chairman, Pig Research Council Dr J.L. Barnett, Scientific Adviser

r-r J.K. Blackshaw, Scientific Adviser Mr P.M. Brechin, Spokesperson on Animal Welfare

Dr P.H. Hemsworth, Scientific Adviser Mr C.G. Winfield, Scientific Adviser

Australian Council of Represented by:

Australian Poultry Industries Association Represented by: Dr E.E. Best, Committee Member Dr J.G. Fairbrother, Executive Director Dr R.K. Ryan, Committee Member

269

Australian Veterinary Association Ltd. Represented by: Dr J.B. Smith, Honorary Secretary Mr I.G. Bell Mrs R . Cobb

Dr P.T. Gilchrist Dr J.M. Holder, Member Dr R.E. Johnston, Member

CSIRO Division of Animal Production, New South Wales Represented by: Dr B.L. Sheldon, Chief Research Scientist

Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (Victoria) Represented by: Dr P.J. Penson, Acting Director, Bureau of Animal Welfare Dr T.R. Thomas, Senior Veterinary

Officer, Bureau of Animal Welfare Dr R.S. Cutler, Senior Veterinary Officer (Pigs) Mr D.A. Treacy, Statewide Industry

Officer (Pigs) Mr L.A. Miller, Statewide Industry Officer (Poultry) Mr S.B. Field, Principal Policy Analyst

(Intensive Livestock)

Murphy, Dr L.B., Poultry Researcher, Camp Hill, Queensland

National Farmers Federation Represented by: Mr J.R. MacNamara, Director, Public Relations Dr A. Bos, Research Officer

Mr N.L. Holland, Producer Representative

New South Wales Agriculture and Fisheries Represented by: Mr B.P. Healy, Acting Principal Veterinary Officer Mr R.N. Macindoe, Assistant Principal

Livestock Officer, Poultry Mr G.I. Poole, District Poultry Adviser Mr I.J. Roth, Special Veterinary

Officer, Poultry Mr F.V. Badham, Principal Livestock Officer (Intensive Livestock) Mr P. Hassab, District Livestock Officer

(Pigs)

Mr W.T. Kirsop, Assistant Principal Livestock Officer (Pigs) Miss S.B. Walker, Acting Special Veterinary Officer (Pig Health)

270

Pig R e s e a r c h Council R e p r e s e n t e d by: Dr J.M. Holder

Royal S o c i e t y for the Prev e n t i o n of C ruelty to Animals

( A u s t r a l i a ) R e p r e s e n t e d by: Dr H.J. Wirth, President

Mr C. Wright, E x ecutive Director

Royal S o c i e t y for the P r evention of Cr u e l t y to Animals

(Tasmania) R e p r e s e n t e d by: Mr. A.H. Stacey, State President

M r W.L. Jones, Inspector Mrs J.K. Trent, Executive Officer, Northern Tasmania Division

Royal S o c i e t y for the

(Victoria) R e p r e s e n t e d by:

P r evention of Cr u e l t y to Animals

Dr H.J. Wirth, President M r P.J. Barber, State Director-

S o u t h A u s t r a l i a n Department of Agriculture Repre s e n t e d by: Dr K.J. Dobson, Principal V e t e r i n a r y

Officer, E p idemiology and Preventative Medicine M r R.C. Woolford, Senior Livestock Officer, P oultry Production

Dr P. Glatz, Senior Research Officer, Poultry P r oduction

T a s m a n i a n Department of Agriculture Repre s e n t e d by: Dr A.N. Smith, Director

Mr A . L . Jones, Agricultural Officer Mr J.T. Bruce, Agricultural Officer Mr F.B. Ryan, Chief Veterinary O fficer M r P. Banks, Agricultural O f ficer for

Intensive Animal Industries (Pigs and Poultry)

Tas m a n i a n Poultry Producers Association R e presented by: M r H.M. Houston, M e m b e r

Mr G. Wilson, Member Mr J. Groenewold, Vice-President

U n i v e r s i t y of Melbourne Repre s e n t e d by: Professor A.R. Egan, Professor of

Agriculture in Animal Science, School of Agriculture and Forestry Dr G.D. Hutson, S enior Research Fellow, School of Agriculture and F o restry

271

University of Queensland Represented by: Dr J.K. Blackshaw, Lecturer in Animal Behaviour, Department of Animal Sciences and Production

Western Australian Department of Agriculture Represented by: Dr R.J. Lightfoot, Chief, Division of Animal Production Dr N. Monzu, Entomologist

Dr G.J. Sawyer, Research Officer, Cattle Branch Mr P. Smetana, Principal Officer, Intensive Industries Branch

272

APPENDIX 2.

ESTABLISHMENTS A N D PROPERTIES F O R M A L L Y INSPECTED

Egg produ c t i o n

G. Tscharke, Greenock, South Australia - caged layers

C. Grieger, Sedan, South Australia - free-range egg production

R.Macalister, Evanston, South Australia - semi-intensive deep litter

A.& P. Schembri, Vineyard, New South Wales - free range egg production

P.& M. Gely, Quaker's Hill, New Wouth Wales - caged layers

R. Weiner and R.& B. Woods, Badgery's Creek, New South Wales - caged layers and beak trimming

N.& R. Kolovos, Rossmore, New South Wales - caged layers

Parkwood Eggs Pty Ltd, Australian Capital Territory - caged layers

Chicken m e a t production

K. Watson, The Oaks, New S outh Wales - broiler chicken production

Eurunderee Processing Plant, Castle Hill, N e w South Wales - m eat chicken processing

Pig P r oduction

Commercial Pig Company, H u n t l y Farms, Huntly, Victoria - intensive

Mr Tom Smith, Yarrawalla, Yarrawalla, Victoria - intensive

Mr Glen Miles, Yarrawalla, Victoria - semi-extensive

C. Barnett, Narromine, New South Wales - intensive

J. Knaggs, Dubbo, N e w South Wales - intensive

273

APP E N D I X 3.

A u s t r a l i a n a nd N e w Zealand F e d e r a t i o n of Animal Societies Recommendations o n Intensive Egg, Chicken Meat and Pig P r oduction

Cage Layers

1 Recommendations This submission demonstrates by several different criteria that cages cause stress to hens. In light of this conclusion, it is recommended that the following be provided by statute:

1) All cages and debeaking to be phased out over a 5 year period.

2) All hens to have access to an outside run within 10 yean. In the interim hens may be housed indoors on litter.

3) Breeding to be commenced immediately for a quieter hen to reverse the trend towards greater aggressiveness which has resulted from breeiing purely for productivity.

4) In the interim period until free range farming is introduced, the stocking density for hens housed permanently indoors not to exceed 3 birds per square metre.

• All hens to have access to litter, whether straw, sawdust earth, or other suitable material.

• Sheds must be adequately ventilated to prevent high levels of dust and ammonia.

• Sheds must have adequate insulation to prevent heat stress in pens.

5) Once free range farming is introduced, all hens to have a space allowance of at least 10 square metres per bird. This allowance can be subdivided for the purposes of rotating the usage of the land, so that a hen does not need to have constant access to the full 10 square metres.

• hens runs must be protected by adequate measures from predators at all times.

• the run must include an area providing shelter from the elements and extremes of temperatures.

6) Outdoor space must be managed so that growing, palatable green feed is available, climatic conditions permitting.

7) In both the interim indoor housing and outdoor runs:

• All hens to have access to laying boxes.

• All hens to have access to perches for roosting and escaping from aggressors. Perches to be constructed to prevent birds from being soiled with excrement, especially in the interim indoor housing.

8) All hens must have a minimum of 8 hours darkness.

9) No force moulting is to be conducted, although moulting may be induced by a method which can be shown not to be detrimental to the hens.

10) Research into alternative systems must be undertaken, in a way which promotes both their commercial viability and the welfare of hens.

11) Agricultural colleges must institute .courses in free range and non-caged indoor systems, emphasizing the husbandry skills necessary to ensure the welfare of the hens under these conditions.

12) During the 10 year period until free range farming is universally adopted, all eggs must be labelled to indicate their production method so that consumers have a clear choice.

1 Mon Dec 19 13:10:42 1988

s 08834

275

Broiler Chickens

1 Recommendations This submission will demonstrate that current husbandry practices result in widespread physical and behavioural problems among broiler chickens. In light of this conclusion, it is recommended that the following be provided by statute:

1) The stocking density in sheds to be immediately reduced to 0.28 sq.m/2 kg, that is, no more than 4 birds/sq. m at market weight

2) While birds arc kept in sheds, lighting to be intermittent with a minimum intensity of 50 lux to encourage activity and allow adequate inspections.

3) Within 5 years all chickens beyond brooding age to have constant access to an outside run, allowing at least 10 sq.m/3 birds at market weight. Runs to be capable of supplying continuous palatable green feed, climatic conditions permitting, and to have adequate surface drainage.

4) All chickens to have adequate shelter from the elements and to be protected from predators at all times.

5) Breeding slock to be selected to produce a physiologically and structurally sound bird, rather than one primarily selected to produce a maximum growth rate.

6) No medicated feed to be used, unless under veterinary supervision and for the purpose of controlling an outbreak of disease.

7) Chickens to be fed a varied diet, including green feed, to produce weight increases capable of being supported by the skeletal system.

1 Sun May 7 12:01:12 1989

S 0 8 8 8 3

Pigs

1 Recommendations This submission will demonstrate that by several different criteria close confinement causes stress to pigs. In light of this conclusion, it is recommended that the following be provided by statute:

1) No further construction of dry sow stalls to be permitted.

2) Tethering to be banned immediately.

3) Dry sows stalls to be phased out over a period of 5 yean.

4) Wire cages for piglets to be phased out over a period of 5 yean.

5) Farrowing crates to be phased out within 5 years, and research to be undertaken immediately into humane alternatives.

6) Within a maximum of 3 years, all pigs to have access to an outdoor run adequate to satisfy physical and behavioural needs.

7) Educational material and courses to be provided for farmers to produce the level of stockmanship required for loose housing of animals.

8) AU pigs to have access to appropriate rooting materials.

9) All pigs to have sufficient bedding to provide comfort and to protect them from physical injury.

10) AU farrowing sows to have access to nesting material.

11) All pigs to live with others of their species in stable social groups in such a manner as to permit continuing physical contact.

12) The lying area available to each adult pig to be no less than 3sq m, with no less than lsq m for each growing pig.

13) Minimum feed requirements for pigs of different body weights should be stipulated, including not only nutrient requirements, but also the bulk to satisfy feeding motivation.

14) Suitable feeding arrangements to be made to limit food competition.

15) AU pigs to be protected from predators, extremes of temperature and the elements.

16) Castration, teeth clipping, ear notching and tail docking of piglets to be prohibited. Tail biting and nibbling of the sow’s belly and litter males, are essentially management problems and should be treated as such. (See the ANZFAS submission on Livestock Mutilations for further discussion).

1 Mon Dec 19 12:37:11 1988

S 0 8 8 5 2

A P P E N D I X 4.

AUSTRALIAN FEDERATION fOR THE WELFARE OF ANIMALS

M e mb e r sh i p Cr o u p s t o C o u n c i l M e e t i n g 13 A p r i l . 1989

I P r l mary P r o d u c e r s

A u s t r a l I s n A s s o c i a t i o n of S t u d M e r i n o B r e e d e r s

A u s t r a l i a n B l o o d h o r s e B r e e d e r s ' A s s o c i a t i o n Ltd

A u s t r a l i a n Bond S h e e p B r e e d e r s ' A s s o c i a t i o n Ltd

A u s t r a l i a n B r ah aa n B r e e d e r s ' A s s o c i a t i o n Ltd

A u s t r a l i a n B r an g us C a t t l e A s s o c i a t i o n

A u s t r a l i a n C a s h n e re G r o w e r A s s o c i a t i o n R e g i o n 24

A u s t r a l lar. C h i c k e n - G r o w e r s C o u n t ί 1 A u s t r a l i a n Deer B r e e d e r s F e d e r a t i o n A u s t r a l i a n Meat 4 L i v e s t o c k R e s e a r c h 4 D e v e l o p e e n t C o r p o r a t i o n

A u s t r a l i a n M e ri n o S o c i e t y Inc.

A u s t r a l i a n M i l k i n g Z e b u B r e e d S o c i e t y

A u s t r a l i a n Pe rend a 1 e A s s o c i a t i o n Inc. A u s t r a l i a n Pig B r e e d e r s S o c i e t y

A u s t r a l i a n Poll D o r s e t A s s o c i a t i o n Inc.

A u s t r a l i a n S o ci et y of B r e e d e r s of B r i t i s h S h e e p Ltd

B o a b a l a P a s t u r es P r o t e c t i o n B o a r d B o w n a - W y m a h P r og r e s s A s s o c i a t i o n B ra idwood P a st ur es P r o t e c t i o n B o ar d B r i t i s h W h i t e C a tt l e S o c i e t y of A u s t r a l i a

C a r c o a r P a st u re s P r o t e c t i o n B o a r d

C a t t l e e e n ' s Union of A u s t r a l i a

C o r o w a P a s t u r e s P r o t e c t i o n B o a r d

D. S. St e v e n s 4 A s s o c i a t e s Pt y Ltd

D a i r y C o a t Soci et y Of A u s t r a l i a (NSW B r a n c h )

De n« an S i n g l e t o n P a s t u r e s P r o t e c t i o n B oard

D r o u g h t m a s t e r Stud B r e e d e r s ' S o c i e t y Ltd

G a l l o w a y C a t t l e S o c i e t y of A u s t r a l i a ( N o r t h e r n B r a n c h )

C u n n i n g r a h Pastoral C o u p a n y H u m e P a s t u r e s P r o t e c t i o n B o a r d

M t F y a n s P a r t n e r s h i p NSW Dairy Farmers A s s o c i a t i o n NSW F a r m e r s A s s o c i a t i o n ( D a l g e t y Br an c h ) NSW Je rs e y Herd S o c i e t y National Fa rmers F e d e r a t i o n N o r t h e r n T e rr it or y C a t t l e m e n ' s A s s o c i a t i o n Inc. S o ut h A u s t r a l i a n Stud Beef C a t t l e B r e e d e r s A s s o c i a t i o n

V i c t o r i a n Farmers F e d e r a t i o n ( H o r s h a m S o ulh Br an c h )

S 8!)4'v 279

2. R e s e a r c h S c i e n t i s t s

2 A g r o p r a i s a l s Ft y Ltd

2 A u s t r a l a s i a n S o c i e t y for the Study of A n i m a l B e h a v i o u r Inc.

2 A u s t r a l i a n K o a l a F o u n d a t i o n Inc.

2 A u s t r a l i a n N u l c l e a r S c i e n c e 4 T e c h n o l o g y O r g a n i s a t i o n

2 A u s t r a l i a n S o c i e t y for R e p r o d u c t i v e B i o l o g y

2 A u s t r a l i a n W o o l C o r p o r a t i o n

2 B i o t e c h n o l o g y A u s t r a l i a Pty Ltd

2 C S I R O O f f i c e r s A s s o c i a t i o n

2 C a r van I n s t i t u t e of M e d i c a l R e s e a r c h

2 La T r o b e U n i v e r s i t y D ep t Z o o l o g y

2 M o n o c l o n a l A u s t r a l i a Ltd

2 N u t r i t i o n S o c i e t y of A u s t r a l i a

2 P r o s p e c t A n i m a l P r o d u c t i o n R e s e a r c h C r o u p

2 R o y al C h i l d r e n ' s H o s p i t a l

2 U n i v e r s i t y of A d e l a i d e Dept of P h y s i o l o g y

3 E d uc a t i o n l s t s

3 C a p r i c or n i a I n s t i t u t e of A d v a n c e d E d u c a t i o n D e p t B i o l o g y

3 D a r l i n g D o w n s I n s t i t u t e of A d v a n c e d E d u c a t i o n S c h o o l A p p l i e d Science

3 M o n a s h U n i v e r s i t y D ept P h y s i o l o g y

3 Q u e e n s l a n d A g r i c u l t u r a l C o l l e g e

3 R l v e r i n a M u r r a y I n s t i t u t e of H i g h e r E d u c a t i o n

3 U n i v e r s i t y of Q u e e n s l a n d

3 U n i v e r s i t y of Q u e e n s l a n d V e t e r i n a r y S t u d e n t ' s A s s o c i a t i o n

* C o m m e re 1al S u p p o r t C r o u p s

4 Agricultural Technologists of Australasia 4 Bayer Australia Ltd

It Coopers Animal Health Australia Ltd

it Elanco Products Co.

4 Elders Pastoral (A Division of Elders IXL Ltd) 4 Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council 4 Pfizer Agricare Pty Ltd 4 Sm 11 hk1 ine Animal Health Products 4 Syntex Animal Health

5 P r o c e s s o r s 4 R e t a i l e r s

5 Fur Council of Australia 5 Kangaroo Industries Association of Australia 3 NSW Meat Industry Authority

2

S 8948

280

AUSTRALIAN fEPE1AT10B TON THE WELPANE 07 ANIMALS

Aeeeclate aeaber grasps to Couocll Meet lag 13 April, 1989

1 C o u n t r y Woaen' « A s s o c i a t i o n o f NSW

1 Y a s s P a s t u r e s P r o t e c t i o n Board

2 C e n t r e f o r Ear ly Huaan D e v e l o p m e n t

2 C l i n i c a l O n c o l o g i c a l S o c i e t y o f A u s t r a l i a

6 A u s t r a l i a n Bovhunter* A s s o c i a t i o n

6 A u s t r a l i a n Deer A s s o c i a t i o n

6 C i r c u s F e d e r a t i o n of A u s t r a l i a

s 8950

281

AUSTRALIAN VETERINARY ASS O C IATIO N AP P E N D I X 5.

W e l f a r e Aspects of t he A u s t r a l i a n P oultry Industry

J . SUMMARY AND GENERAL RECOMMENDATIONS

1.1 Poultry are kept principally for food production. Advances in farming

practices and technology have resulted in poultry meat and eggs becoming

regular, affordable and nutritious components of the diet of most Australians.

1.2 People working with commercial poultry have a duty to produce quality,

economical food for our community. They also have an obligation to care for the welfare of poultry in line with our society’s attitudes. Animal welfare and

human needs must be considered at the same time, and policies on each most be complementary, not detrimental, to the other. We believe that this balanced approach is practical and achievable.

1.3 The commercial poultry industry has made substantial contributions to improving bird welfare over recent decades, particularly in the areas of

husbandry, health, housing and nutrition. However, further improvements arc warranted. Certain management practices (disposal of day-old chicks, stocking densities, cage housing, moulting, beak-trimming, transport) require critical re-assessment and improvement where necessary. The overall standard of husbandry

and facilities on some poultry farms needs upgrading.

1.4 More research is needed to define specific welfare needs of poultry in the

above mentioned areas. Until more facts on the welfare aspects of these issues are available, purely anthropomorphic, aesthetic or economic judgements should be avoided.

1.5 Before being introduced, new technology, equipment and management practices should be carefully and critically examined from a welfare viewpoint and if

necessary modified or rejected. Responsibility for these matters should be

assumed by both poultry producers and State governments. The veterinary

profession has played and can continue to play an important role in improving poultry welfare.

1.6 Good stockmanship is the key element in poultry welfare. People looking after poultry must be well-trained, experienced and dedicated. Poultry

management and husbandry performed expedientially, perfunctorily or in ignorance can result in practices detrimental to welfare.

1.7 Health and welfare are closely linked. Any bird which is sick is suffering,

and many infectious diseases can cause illness and death amongst poultry.

Therefore, in the welfare interests of the birds, every endeavour must be made to maintain good health. Good standards of hygiene and quarantine should be routinely practised; all-in, all-out housing systems should be encouraged;

appropriate safe and effective vaccines and medications should be used.

Impending disease outbreaks must be quickly recognised and promptly rectified. Individual sick or injured birds which cannot be successfully treated should be humanely euthanased. Research efforts into disease control should be maintained. Veterinary advice on disease control must always be sought and followed.

1.8 Different housing systems provide welfare advantages and disadvantages. There is no one ideal system. However, well-designed and correctly nsed

intensive systems which house birds on the floor satisfactorily cater to the overall welfare needs of poultry. The welfare concerns associated with cages most be carefully assessed and addressed. Satisfactory improvements to or alternatives to current cage systems should be sought and promoted.

1.9 We recognise that procedures such as beak-trimming cause temporary pain, but are often essential in order to minimise prolonged suffering doe to

cannibalism. Such procedures should only be carried out if they serve the long­ term welfare interests of the birds. They must be performed by competent people.

S 0 8 766

283

1.10 We believe that moult inducement is an acceptable management tool provided causes minimal stress. Moulting practices which deprive birds of food or

water for excessive periods cannot be justified on welfare grounds and most not be practised.

1.11 Methods of slaughter and culling of poultry must not cause pain and must ensure death.

1.12 The poultry welfare Codes of Practice most be regularly reviewed and up­ dated, to ensure that they are relevant to current industry practices, include

new knowledge, and reflect prevailing community attitudes. The review process should include representations from governments, the poultry industry, consumer and animal welfare organisations, and specialist ethologists. The Codes should be extended to include domestic game birds and waterfowl. All matters relating to poultry welfare should be combined into one document.

1.13 The principles and procedures contained in the Codes of Practice must be adopted by everyone who keeps poultry. To achieve this, the Codes should be

widely publicised so they are brought to the attention of and are well

understood by the commercial poultry industry, hobby farmers and the general public alike. This promotion is best performed by Government extension services in conjunction with poultry companies and private veterinarians.

1.14 Self-regulation is desirable. However, as some poultry owners may fail to comply with certain recommendations, legislative backup to provide for

enforcement of welfare codes may be warranted.

1.15 Poultry companies must ensure that their research and development

practices comply with the provisions of Animal Research Acts.

1.16 Current egg production and marketing policies and practices in all States and Territories should be reviewed to ensure that producers are not encouraged to engage in management practices which are detrimental to the welfare of their birds.

1.17 We believe that bird performance parameters (such as egg production and livability) correlate closely with welfare, and at present are the best avail­

able indicates* of how well the oversJJ welfare needs of poultry arc being met. On the other hand, least-cost production parameters (such as cents per egg or

per kilogram) may be in opposition to good welfare practice. Welfare must not be compromised for cost saving.

1.18 How we use animals for the benefit of our community involves ethical

decisions which should be made by an enlightened society, not by one or other

small sectors which have special or personal interests. Proposed changes to

current fanning practices should reflect the attitude of a well-informed general public. Such changes should be embraced by the poultry industry with good grace; the industry should not isolate itself from public opinion. The industry should be able to pass on to the consumer any reasonable increase in production costs

which may result, and the public should equally accept this.

1.19 The Australian Veterinary Poultry Association, a special interest group of the Australian Veterinary Association comprising veterinarians, scientists, microbiologists, agriculturalists, educators, pathologists, geneticists and

nutritionists in public and private employment and with a special interest and

expertise in poultry, is in a unique position to advise on poultry welfare. Our

academic training and professional ethics allow us to understand poultry

welfare; our industry contact and experience assist us to marry this in a

practical way with the production and economic aims of the poultry industry; as members of society, we can perceive and appreciate the needs of the consuming public. We are able to present an ethical, scientific, practical and balanced

view which contributes positively towards poultry welfare.

S 0 8 767

- 284

WELFAMS ASPECTS OF THE AUSTRALIA· FIG 1HD0STBT

Statement o f posit ion by the A ustralian V eterinary A sso cia tio n (AVA)

Si— ary

1. Veterinarians have been involved with the Australian pig industry for well over 100 years, first in regulatory matters related to control of disease outbreaks, now currently in day-to-day contact with piggeries in matters of production, disease prevention and treatment. It is estimated that over 502 of all pigs produced come from piggeries with direct veterinary involvement.

2. There are approximately 8,500 units in Australia producing pigs but it is estimated that less than 12 of these produce approx. 452 of all pigs.

3. Codes of Practice developed for the housing and husbandry of pigs are accepted as being the standards by which pig husbandry should be measured. Similar codes for transport of pigs and their handling at abattoirs are generally acceptable to veterinarians but it is

recoaurended that more emphasis should be placed on educating transport operators and abattoir workers in their handling of pigs.

4. Minor surgical procedures used within the pig industry are necessary and justified. Veterinarians believe that stress involved in such procedures is transient but there is an obligation for operators to be skilled in their methods.

5. Matters related to the welfare of the housed pig and particularly the breeding sow are extensively addressed. Veterinarians consider that confinement systems of housing pigs are likely to be more conducive to good pig welfare than rearipg in outside systems.

S Ί020 285 -

6. Within confinement systems the balance of evidence appears to be that housing of sows in groups, provided individual feeding stalls are also available, may slightly improve welfare relative to that of sows housed in stalls or stalls with neck tethers. The evidence Chat tethering of pregnant sows is harmful to their welfare relative to those in complete stalls in seen as equivocal.

Whatever the system of housing imposed it is Che skill of the stockpersons using the system which ensures the welfare of the animal. Neck tethering of sows requires a high standard of stock management.

7. The use of antimicrobial substances in the pig industry has great potential for maintaining Che welfare of pigs but Che abuse of product can adversely affect welfare. Wherever possible veterinarians should be involved in all decisions on the use of antimicrobial substances.

It is stressed chat veterinarians, particularly those directly involved with the industry, have particular skills which can and should be used to the benefit of the industry and Che welfare of Che animals in its control .

286

APP E N D I X 6.

Royal S o c i e t y for the P r e v e n t i o n of C ruelty to An i m a l s Aust r a l i a - P o l i c y Statement

Story (7912) System E by KEVINW 3oct89 13:13:14 Page:

FACTORS INFLUENCING THE WELFARE OF ANIMALS SUBJECTED

TO INTENSIVE ANIMAL SYSTEMS Preamble

1. For the purpose of this paper, an Intensive Animal Hus­ bandry System is defined as one where the animals involved are housed for all, or a substantial part, of their rearing and/or productive lives.

2. RSPCA Australia believes that there is no single animal husbandry index which can forecast or judge a particular production system as meeting all the welfare needs of the animals subjected to it. This paper attempts to identify all those husbandry factors which, if collectively implemented at a high standard, should ensure that all animal welfare require­

ments for an intensive system are met. Good animal hus­ bandry procedures (in the broadest definition) usually mean good animal welfare standards.

3. No attempt is made here to define or qualify the various animal husbandry requirements mentioned in the paper. The various National Codes of Accepted Farming Practice should be consulted for this purpose.

4. It should be observed that RSPCA Australia is fundamentally concerned about the welfare of animals and not their product­ ivity. In some cases animal welfare will complement product­ ivity whilst in others improved productivity will lead to the deterioration in proper animal welfare standards.

Housing and Associated Facilities

1. There are three factors influencing the welfare of animals which would justify housing them for part or whole of the year:

RSPCA Australia can accept that housing of some animals may be necessary under certain conditions, but is opposed to the intensive farming of any species simply on the basis of increased productivity. Where housing is not indicated for any of the animal welfare reasons mentioned above, it should not be permit­ ted except in the cases of provision of temporary protection from the elements at particular times of the year, such as winter lambing, where shelter from the wind may be necessary.

S9097 - 287 -

APPENDIX 7.

M O D E L C O D E O F P R A C T IC E

F O R T H E W E L F A R E

O F A N IM A L S

2 . T H E D O M E S T IC F O W L

Issued by the Australian Bureau of Animal Health

1983

289

CONTENTS

Page

PREFACE 1

INTRODUCTION 2

ACCOMMODATION

1. Floors and Other Surfaces 3

2. Housing 3

3. Space 3

4. Equipment 3

5. Lighting 4

6. Ventilation 4

7. Temperature 5

8. Protection 5

FOOD AND WATER

1. Food 6

2. Water 6

HEALTH 7

I N S P E C T I O N S 8

HATCHERY MANAGEMENT 8

Appendix 1: Maximum Recommended Stocking Densities for Domestic Fowls According to Housing Type Under Good Management Conditions 9

Appendix 2: Management Practices

1. Artificial Insemination 10

2. Beak Trimming 10

3. Dubbing 10

4. Toe Trimming 10

5. Blinkers ("Spectacles") 10

6. Castration ("Surgical Caponising") 11

7. Decrowing 11

8. Flight Restriction 11

9. Moult Inducement and Controlled Feeding 11 10. Wing and Leg Bands 11

11. "Pick-up" and Crating of Fowls 11

Appendix 3: Additional Recommendations for Free Range Fowls

1. Management 12

2. Housing 12

290

1.

PREFACE

This Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals has been prepared by the Sub-Committee on Animal Welfare (SCAW) of the Animal Health Committee within the Australian Agricultural Council (AAC) system.

Membership of SCAW comprises representatives from each of the State Departments with responsibility for agriculture, CSIRO, Commonwealth Department of Health, Australian Bureau of Animal Health and other committees within the AAC.

The Code is intended as a model to enable the States to develop codes of practice to meet their individual needs.

This Model Code was endorsed by Australian Agricultural Council at its 116th meeting (Sydney, February 1983) for consideration by States in consultation with their industries.

The Model Code may be revised to take account of advances in the understanding of animal physiology and behaviour, technological changes in animal husbandry and their relationship to the welfare of animals.

This Model Code has been issued by:

Australian Bureau of Animal Health Department of Primary Industry CANBERRA ACT 2600

291

2.

INTRODUCTION

This Code of Practice is intended as a guide for people responsible for the welfare and husbandry of the domestic fowl (Gallus gallus). It recognises that the basic requirement for welfare of poultry is a husbandry system appropriate to their physiological and behavioural needs. The basic needs of fowls are:

. readily accessible food and water to maintain health and vigour;

. freedom of movement to stand, stretch and lie down;

. visual contact with other fowls;

. accommodation which provides protection from the weather and which neither harms nor causes distress;

. rapid identification and treatment of vice, injury and disease.

The Code emphasises that, whatever the form of husbandry, managers and others responsible for the day-to-day needs of domestic fowls have a responsibility to care for animals under their control.

The importance of competent stockmanship in animal welfare cannot be over-emphasised and those responsible should seek expert opinion when fowls are in ill-health. Managers are encouraged to treat their animals efficiently and with consideration.

Assistance with the establishment of poultry farms and advice on the management of fowls can be obtained from qualified advisers in private or government employment.

This Code is based on the knowledge and technology available at the time of publication and may need to be varied in the light of future knowledge. It does not replace the need for experience and commonsense in the husbandry of the domestic fowl.

292

3.

ACCOMMODATION

1. Floors and Other Surfaces

Floors and other surfaces should be designed, constructed and maintained so as to minimise the risk of injury and disease, and adequately support fowls so that they can stand and move freely.

Deep litter floors should be checked frequently for dryness and friability. When litter is caked, wet, or excessively dusty the problem should be rectified.

2. Housing

Advice on welfare aspects should be sought when new buildings are to be constructed or existing buildings modified. Such advice is available from qualified advisers in private practice or Government employment.

Nest boxes and roosting areas should be easily accessible and should not be so high above the floor level that birds can be injured when ascending or descending.

In cages, fowls should be able to stand at normal height. Layer cages should be at least 40 cm high if the fowls cannot extend their heads through the top.

Cage doors should be of sufficient size to allow fowls to be placed in cages or removed without injury.

Multi-deck cages should be arranged so that fowls in the lower tiers are protected from excreta from above.

Nest litter should be changed regularly so as to be clean, dry, friable and moisture absorbent.

3. Space

It is recommended that stocking density be periodically reviewed and adjusted, having regard to age, breed, strain and type of fowl, colony size, temperature, ventilation, lighting, quality of housing and occurrence of disease and cannibalism.

Maximum stocking densities for fowls are presented in Appendix 1.

4. Equipment

All equipment to which fowls have access should be designed and maintained so as to avoid either injury or pain.

2 93

4.

Feeders and waterers should be checked for efficient operation at least once each day.

Automated hatchery equipment should have adequate back-up systems.

5. Lighting

Young chicks reared away from the hen require a light intensity of about 40 lux on the food and water for the first three days after hatching in order to learn to find food and water. It may then be reduced to as low as 2 lux during rearing.

During inspection of fowls a light intensity of at least 10 lux at bird level is required.

Where young fowls are housed in enclosed sheds using continuous light, a "blackout" training period of one hour in total in each 24 hours is recommended to prevent panic should lighting fail.

Where fowls do not have access to daylight they should be given lighting over a period of at least 8 hours per day. Photoperiods in excess of 20 hours per day may be detrimental to the laying fowl and should be discouraged.

6. Ventilation

Ventilation is required at ail times to provide fresh air and prevent accumulation of water vapour, heat, ammonia, hydrogen sulphide, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and dust particles. Consideration should be given to the use of dust

filters where air is recirculated in poultry houses.

The presence of ammonia is usually a reliable indicator of the build-up of noxi j u s . gases; it should not be allowed to exceed 20 parts per million (ppm) of air measured at bird level in enclosed buildings without immediate corrective action being taken. (A level of 10 to 15 ppm of ammonia in the air can be detected by smell. An ammonia level of from 25 to 35 ppm will cause eye and nasal irritation in man) .

If stocking density on deep litter exceeds 28 kg/m2 in summer months and 32 kg/m2 in winter months mechanical air movement is essential. In force-ventilated sheds assisted ventilation should be capable of moving up to 4.6 m 3 air/hour/kg liveweight during summer months with an optimum velocity of air movement past the bird of 0.25 to 1.0 m/second.

Force-ventilated sheds should have automatic alarm systems to warn of power failure. A back-up alarm system to warn of temperature increase in such sheds is also essential and should operate through an alternative circuit to the power failure alarm system. In fan-ventilated sheds emergency ventilation provisions should be available.

2 9 4

5.

7. Temperature

(a) Young Chickens (day-old to five weeks)

Newly-hatched chicks have a poor ability to control body temperature and so they require supplementary heat to bring their environmental temperature up to the comfort temperature range of 28° - 32°C as evidenced by alert and active behaviour.

Supplementary heat may be required for up to 5 weeks of age. Chick behaviour is the best indicator of comfort and whether insufficient or excessive heating is being provided.

(b) Growing and Adult Fowls

Fowls should be protected from draughts during cold weather and from direct sunlight during hot weather.

Adequate precautions should be taken to relieve stress produced by temperatures high enough to cause prolonged panting, particularly when a high temperature is accompanied by high humidity. Under such conditions fowls find it difficult

to maintain normal body temperature. In hot weather provision of adequate cool water and ventilation is essential. Where high temperatures are causing distress foggers, roof sprinklers, fans or other systems should be used to control heat build-up within buildings.

It is essential that no stocking density or other constraining practice be allowed to prevent fowls adopting behaviour to facilitate body heat loss in hot weather, such as panting, vibrating the floor of the mouth cavity ("gular flutter *) standing erect with wings held away from the body and raising of the scapular feathers.

The construction and positioning of nest boxes should be such that they do not become heat traps.

8. Protection

Fowls should be protected from predators and, if necessary, other fowls.

Poultry accommodation should be sited so as to be safe from the effects of fires and floods.

Fire-fighting equipment should be available to all fowl houses, e.g. fire hoses should be capable of delivering water of sufficient volume and pressure to control a fire in any building or part of any building.

2 9 5

6

When planning new buildings, consideration should be given to the use of construction materials with a high fire resistance, and all electrical and fuel installations should be planned and fitted so as to minimise the fire risk.

New buildings in which birds are housed should incorporate sufficient exits to allow for emergency evacuation of the building.

FOOD AND WATER

1. Food

Fowls, other than newly-hatched chicks, should have access to food at least once each 24 hours with the exception of induced moulting and feeding regimes to control obesity (see Appendix 2). The period for newly-hatched chicks may be extended to not more than 72 hours.

Fowls should receive a diet containing adequate nutrients to meet their requirements for good health and vitality. Fowls should not be provided with food that is deleterious to their health.

Medicated food should only be used on competent professional advice as the overuse or mixing of medicaments, or the medicament itself, may cause toxic injury.

When using mechanical systems for delivery of food alternative methods of feeding should be available. There should be enough food on hand, or ready means of obtaining food, in the event of failure of supply.

A trough length of at least 10 cm per adult bird should be provided to enable each bird in a cage to feed at the same time.

2. Water

Fowls should be provided with sufficient drinkable water to meet their physiological requirements. Water should be cool in summer. Newly-hatched chicks require water within 72 hours otherwise dehydration may become irreversible.

Under no circumstances should fowls other than newly-hatched chicks be deprived of water for more than 24 hours. Newly-hatched chickens require water within 72 hours.

Water which is stale, contaminated or deleterious to health should not be provided.

296

7.

Medicated water should only be used on competent professional advice as the overuse or mixing of medicaments, or the medicament itself, may cause toxic injury.

A minimum of one day's calculated water requirements should be available in storage or auxiliary supply in case of breaks, repairs or failure of pumping equipment.

When a poultry enterprise is first established, or when a new water source is obtained, the water should be tested for salt content and microbiological contamination and advice obtained on its suitability for poultry. As the composition of water from bores, dams or water holes may change with changes

in flow or evaporation, the water may require more frequent monitoring for suitability for fowls. Information on water testing can be obtained from the local office of the Department of Agriculture.

A water channel of at least 10 cm per adult bird or not less than two nipple drinkers or drinking cups should be provided within reach of each cage.

HEALTH

Those responsible for the care of domestic fowls should be aware of the signs of ill-health. Signs of ill-health in fowls include reduced food and water intake, reduced production, changes in the nature and level of their activity, abnormal condition of the feathers or droppings, or other physical features. If the person in charge is not able

to identify the causes and correct them, he should seek advice from those having training and experience in such matters. Such persons may be specialist poultry veterinarians or other qualified advisers in private or Government employment.

Poultry producers should also operate an effective programme to prevent infectious disease and internal and external parasitism. Vaccinations and other treatments applied to poultry should be undertaken by people skilled in the procedures.

When an outbreak of feather picking or cannibalism occurs, or an outbreak appears imminent, environmental factors that may aggravate it should be examined and appropriate adjustments made, such as reducing the stocking density, light

intensity, temperature, humidity or disturbances to the pecking order; removing birds with traumatic injuries; removing fowls observed to be instigating pecking, or eliminating shafts of bright sunlight.

Dead birds should be removed and disposed of promptly and hygienically. Records of mortalities, treatment given and response to treatment should be maintained to assist disease investigations.

297

8.

Fowls with an incurable sickness or a painful deformity should be removed from the flock and humanely destroyed as soon as possible.

Premises and equipment should be thoroughly cleaned and, where required, disinfected at suitable times, (e.g. before restocking) to control the carry-over of disease-causing organisms to incoming batches.

INSPECTIONS

The frequency and level of inspection should be related to the likelihood of risk to the welfare of fowls, but should be at least once each day. Inspections are best made at feeding times. Under certain circumstances more

frequent inspections may be required, such as during hot weather or during outbreaks of disease or cannibalism. Checks should also be made of the effectiveness of any automated feeding or watering systems where these have been installed.

Where cages are installed in multiple tiers it should be possible to easily and routinely inspect birds in all tiers.

Fowls should be checked regularly for evidence of internal and external parasites and effective treatment should be instituted according to the manufacturer's directions.

HATCHERY MANAGEMENT

Culled or surplus chicks awaiting disposal should be treated as humanely as those intended for retention or sale. They should be removed and humanely destroyed as soon as possible.

Hatchery waste, including unhatched embryos, should be treated quickly and effectively to ensure their rapid destruction.

Chicks should be brooded within 72 hours of hatching. Weak, deformed and unthrifty chickens should be culled and destroyed humanely.

Chicks in brooders should be inspected at least twice every 24 hours and action taken to correct deficiencies in husbandry as they occur.

2 9 8

9

MAXIMUM RECOMMENDED STOCKING DENSITIES FOR DOMESTIC FOWLS

ACCORDING TO HOUSING TYPE UNDER GOOD MANAGEMENT CONDITIONS

APPENDIX 1

Density (live-

System weight per unit Qualifications

__________________ of floor a r e a ) _____________________

1. Deep Litter (where greater than 50 percent of the floor is litter)

Rearing of fowls for laying and rearing of layer and meat chicken breeders

Laying and breeding fowls

Meat chickens

30 kg/m2 (applies to terminal live- weight at 16-22 weeks)

25 kg/m2

40 kg/m2

Floor area to include any slatted or metal mesh area and any area occupied by

feeding and watering equipment.

Floor area to include any slatted or metal mesh area and any area occupied by feeding and watering equipment and nest boxes.

In the case of birds kept for breeding, liveweight to include weight of cockerels.

Includes area occupied by feeding and watering equipment.

2. Cages

Rearing of fowls 40 kg/m2

for laying or breeding

Laying or breeding 52 kg/m2 fowls (includes cockerels) 3 or more fowls per cage

2 fowls per cage 40 kg/m2

Single fowl cages 26 kg/m2

Relates to cage floor area.

Density relates to cage floor area.

Irrespective of the number of birds per cage, each bird should have a minimum

trough space of 10 cm.

3. Free Range Arks

Arks with slatted floors 40 kg/m2

Solid floor houses 20 kg/m2

299

10

APPENDIX 2

MANAGEMENT PRACTICES

1. Artificial Insemination

Artificial insemination is a highly skilled procedure which should be carried out only by competent, trained personnel maintaining a high standard of hygiene and taking care to avoid unnecessary disturbance or injury to the fowls.

2. Beak Trimming

When performed as a preventive measure beak trimming should be performed by a competent operator soon after hatching. The operator may remove not more than half of the upper beak and one-third of the lower beak.

Further trimming of the beaks of pullets may be necessary to prevent vice during the laying period.

3. Dubbing

If dubbing is necessary it should be carried out by a competent operator within two weeks of hatching.

4. Toe Trimming

To avoid injury to hens during mating, the last joint of the two inside toes of male breeding birds may be removed within 72 hours of hatching.

For all other classes of fowls, trimming, if necessary, should be limited to the nail of the toe only.

5. Blinkers ("Spectacles")

Blinkers should only be used to control outbreaks of cannibalism where beak trimming has not been previously performed.

Blinkers should be applied by a competent operator and those which cause mutilation of the nasal septum should not be used.

Blinkers which may injure the fowl if they become entangled should not be used.

Blinkers should be applied to poultry only when nest boxes are situated at ground level.

- 300

11.

6. Castration ("Surgical Caponising")

This operation requires entry into the abdominal cavity and therefore is an act of veterinary surgery requiring anaesthesia and surgical training appropriate only to a registered veterinary surgeon.

7. Decrowing

This is an unacceptable practice and should not be undertaken.

8. Flight Restriction

De-winging, pinioning, notching or tendon severing to restrict flight in fowls are unwarranted practices and should not be performed.

If flight restriction is required, the flight feathers of one wing may be trimmed with scissors.

9. Moult Inducement and Controlled Feeding

Methods of moult inducement and controlled feeding which deprive fowls of water for more than 24 hours or feed for more than 48 hours should not be used.

Both practices should only be carried out on healthy fowls under close management supervision and under conditions that will not cause cold stress.

10. Wing and Leg Bands

Wing and leg bands for bird identification should be checked regularly and where necessary loosened or removed to avoid injury to the fowl.

11. "Pick-up" and Crating of Fowls

Fowls should be herded for pick-up only under the supervision of an experienced person to avoid suffocation and bruising. FoWls should be handled and crated gently to avoid joint dislocation and bone breaks. At all times care should take precedence over speed and labour cost.

Sick fowls should not be crated and should be treated or humanely destroyed.

If the operation of a poultry processing plant is disrupted, and the holding period of crated fowls exceeds 24 hours, crated fowls should be released into a shed where they have access to feed and water.

301

A PPENDIX 3

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FREE RANGE FOWLS

1. Management

Range fowls should not be kept on land which has become contaminated with poisonous plants or organisms which cause or carry disease to an extent which could seriously prejudice the health of poultry. The time taken for land to become so contaminated depends upon the type of land and the stocking density. Flocks should be moved before this stage is reached. Portable houses should be moved regularly to avoid continuously muddy conditions which may lead to the discomfort of the fowls.

Precautions should be taken to protect fowls against foxes, cats, dogs and other predators.

Shelter from sun and rain should always be available. Windbreaks should be provided in exposed areas.

2. Housing

The maximum recommended density for housing fowls on free range systems is presented in Appendix 1.

When fowls are transferred to range houses, precautions should be taken to avoid crowding and suffocation, particularly during the first few nights. Cannibalism is a danger under this system. Fowls should not be confined for too long during hours of daylight or subjected to direct sunlight during confinement.

0037h

APPENDIX 8.

M O DEL C O D E O F PRACTICE FOR TH E W ELFARE O F ANIM ALS

1. T H E PIG

Issued by the Australian Bureau of Animal Health

1933

303

CONTENTS

Page

PREFACE 1

INTRODUCTION 2

ACCOMMODATION

1. Space 2. Equipment 3. Environment 4. Protection 5. Waste Control

FOOD AND WATER

1. Food 5

2. Water 5

SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS

1. Inspections 6

2. Health 6

3. Farrowing 7

4. Boars 7

5. Additional Requirements for Pig Keeping Under Extensive Conditions 7

Appendix 1: Minor Surgical Procedures

1. General 9

2. Castration 9

3. Tail-Docking 9

4. Clipping of "Needle" Teeth 10

5. Nose Ringing 10

6. Identification 10

7. Backfat Measurement 10

8. Tusk Trimming 10

Appendix 2: Accommodation

1. Stocking Density 11

2. Temperature 12

3. Ventilation 12

4. Tethering 13

Appendix 3: Humane Destruction of Pigs

1. Use of the Firearm 14

2. Use of the Captive-Bolt Pistol 15

3. Stunning by Clubbing 16

304

Ln JX LU UJ

1.

PREFACE

This Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals has been prepared by the Sub-Committee on Animal Welfare (SCAW) of the Animal Health Committee within the Australian Agricultural Council (AAC) system.

Membership of SCAW comprises representatives from each of the State Departments with responsibility for agriculture, CSIRO, Commonwealth Department of Health, Australian Bureau of Animal Health and other committees within the AAC.

The Code is intended as a model to enable the States to develop codes of practice to meet their individual needs.

This Model Code was endorsed by Australian Agricultural Council at its 116th meeting (Sydney, February 1983) for consideration by States in consultation with their industries.

The Model Code may be revised to take account of advances in the understanding of animal physiology and behaviour, technological changes in animal husbandry and their relationship to the welfare of animals.

This Model Code has been issued by:

Australian Bureau of Animal Health Department of Primary Industry CANBERRA ACT 2600

305

2.

INTRODUCTION

This Code of Practice is intended as a guide for all people responsible for the welfare and husbandry of pigs. It recognises that the basic requirement for the welfare of pigs is a husbandry system appropriate to their physiological and behavioural needs. The basic needs of pigs are:

. readily accessible food and water to maintain health and vigour;

. freedom of movement to stand, stretch and lie down;

. light during the daylight hours;

. visual contact with other pigs;

. accommodation which provides protection from the weather and which neither harms nor causes distress;

. rapid identification and treatment of vice, injury and disease.

The Code emphasises that, whatever the form of husbandry, managers and others responsible for the day-to-day needs of pigs have a responsibility to care for animals under their control.

The importance of competent stockmanship in animal welfare cannot be over-emphasised and those responsible should seek expert opinion when pigs are in ill-health. Managers are encouraged to treat their animals efficiently and with consideration.

Assistance with the establishment of piggeries and advice on the management of and disease control in pigs can be obtained from qualified advisers in private or government employment.

This Code of Animal Welfare Practice is based on the knowledge and technology available at the time of publication and may need to be varied in the light of future knowledge. It does not replace the need for experience and commonsense in the husbandry of animals.

306

3.

ACCOMMODATION

Anyone who intends to erect new housing or redesign old housing should seek advice from Government agricultural authorities and others with expert knowledge in this field. Well designed and constructed buildings can provide an ideal environment for pigs and are often more economic to operate and less expensive to maintain.

1. Space

Accommodation for pigs should be designed and constructed so that it does not cause injury or predispose to disease and to provide a clean dry place on which to lie.

Pigs kept in groups require sufficient space for each to sleep and feed. They should have a clean dry place on which to lie (see Appendix 2).

Pigs accommodated individually in pens, stalls or tethers should be able to stand normally, lie with limbs extended and to stretch. They should have sufficient space in which to feed and sleep and a clean dry place on which to lie (see Appendix 2 ) .

The space allowance and facilities provided for suckling sows should aim to avoid overlaying of piglets.

Floors should be constructed and maintained so as to minimise the risk of injury or disease and to allow pigs to stand normally.

All surfaces and fittings to which pigs have access should be made of materials that can be cleaned and disinfected.

2. Equipment

All equipment to which pigs have access should be designed and maintained so as to avoid either injury or pain.

Mechanical equipment essential to meeting the basic requirements of pigs should be inspected regularly and kept in good working order.

In case of breakdown of mechanical equipment, alternative ways of providing feed and water and of maintaining a satisfactory environment should be available.

An alarm system should be installed to warn the stock-keeper of failures of any automated ventilation equipment.

All electrical installations at mains voltage should be inaccessible to pigs and properly earthed.

30 7

4 .

3. Environment

Shivering and cold-stress in new-born piglets should be avoided through the provision of bedding and/or supplementary heating.

In intensive housing systems wide or abrupt temperature fluctuations within any 2 4 hour period should be avoided. Extremes of air temperature or of humidity, particularly those liable to cause heat stress, should not be deliberately maintained.

In enclosed houses, the level of air exchanges should provide fresh air for respiration, remove excess heat and waste gases, and minimise the effects of dust and excess moisture. Efficient ventilation is particularly important when

fermentation pits are associated with slatted floor systems.

Sufficient lighting should be available when required to enable the proper inspection of all pigs. As a guide, 110 lux is sufficient for general purposes.

4. Protection

Pigs should be protected from predators and, where injury from bullying or fighting may occur, from other pigs. Where unfamiliar pigs must be mixed, this should be done in a manner that minimises aggression, such as, use of a new pen, provision of feed on the floor, or use of a pen with room for escape.

Action should be taken to prevent bullying or deprivation of food in groups of dry sows and gilts. Stalls in which dry sows and gilts can feed individually are strongly recommended.

When individual quarters or tethers are provided for dry sows and gilts they should be able to feed and lie down normally. Partitions should prevent aggressive behaviour but enable them to see each other.

Fire-fighting equipment should be available to all pig houses, e.g. fire hoses should be capable of delivering sufficient water volume and pressure to control a fire in any building or part of any building.

When planning new buildings, consideration should be given to the use of construction materials with a high fire resistance, and all electrical and fuel installations should be planned and fitted so as to minimise the fire risk.

3 0 8

5.

New buildings should incorporate sufficient exits to facilitate the quick evacuation of pigs in emergencies.

Pig housing should be sited so as to be safe from the effects of fires and floods.

5. Waste Control

The frequency of cleaning of pig accommodation will depend on the system of housing used, the type of flooring and stocking density. As a guide, pens with solid floors should be cleaned daily. Faeces and urine should not be permitted to accumulate to the stage where they pose a threat to the health and well-being of pigs, or disrupt the normal instinct of pigs to have separate dunging and sleeping areas.

FOOD AND WATER

1. Food

Pigs should be fed at least once each day and the diet should be nutritionally adequate to maintain health and vitality and take account of the requirements of growth, pregnancy and lactation.

Medicated food should only be used on competent professional advice as the overuse or mixing of medicaments, or the medicament itself, may cause toxic injury.

There should be enough food on hand, or ready means of obtaining food, in case supply fails or is delayed.

2. Water

Drinkable water or other wholesome liquid should be available in sufficient quantities to meet the physiological needs of the pigs.

Medicated water should only be used on competent professional advice as the overuse or mixing of medicaments, or the medicament itself, may cause toxic injury.

When a piggery is first established, or a new water source obtained, the water should be tested for salt content and microbiological contamination, and advice obtained on its suitability for pigs. As the composition of water from bores, dams or water holes may change with changes in flow or evaporation, the water may require more frequent monitoring

for suitability for pigs. Information on water testing can be obtained from the local office of the Department of Agriculture.

309

6.

The daily consumption of water by a pig can vary according to environmental temperature and liveweight. The table below shows the range of daily water consumption by various classes of pigs.

WATER REQUIREMENTS PER PIG

Average Water Consumption (Litres/day)

Boar or dry sow 12-15

Sow and litter 25-45

Grower pig: 25 kg 3-5

45 kg 5-7

65 kg 7-9

90 kg 9-12

(Conversion factor: 1.0 litre = 0.22 gal)

The piggery should be serviced by an adequate reserve water supply in case of breaks, repairs or failure of pumping equipment.

SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS

1. Inspections

The frequency and level of inspection should be related to the likelihood of risk to the welfare of pigs, but should be at least once each day. Inspections are best made at feeding times. Under certain circumstances more

frequent inspections may be required, such as during hot weather, during outbreaks of disease or vice, when farrowing is expected, when groups of pigs have been mixed, or where sows are tethered. Checks should also be made of the effectiveness of any automated feeding or watering systems where these have been installed.

2. Health

Those responsible for the care of pigs should be aware of the signs of ill-health. These include separation from other pigs, refusal to eat, changes in faeces or urine, reduced production or fertility, vomiting, skin discolouration, shivering, sneezing, coughing, panting, lameness, and swellings on the body. If the person in charge is not able to identify the causes and correct them, he should seek advice from those having training and experience in such matters. Such persons may be specialist pig veterinarians or other qualified advisers

in private practice or Government employment.

310

7.

Pig producers should also operate an effective programme to prevent infectious disease, and internal and external parasitism. Vaccinations and other treatments applied to pigs should be undertaken by people skilled in the procedures and in accordance with the manufacturer's directions.

Sick and injured pigs should be treated as soon as possible. They should be isolated if necessary.

Dead pigs should be removed promptly and, if not required for post-mortem examination, should be disposed of in a hygienic manner such as incineration or deep burial.

Records of sick animals, deaths, treatment given and response to treatment should be maintained to assist disease investigations.

Pigs with either incurable sickness or painful deformity should be humanely slaughtered as soon as possible. The recommended method of destruction is described in Appendix 3.

3. Farrowing

Sows should be placed in farrowing quarters before the litter is due to allow them to become accustomed to their surroundings.

4. Boars

The floor of the serving area should be well maintained and should not be slippery.

5. Additional Requirements for Pig Keeping Under Extensive Conditions

The same welfare standards as are applicable to housed pigs should be observed where pigs are kept outdoors.

Huts for farrowing and rearing should be warm and draught-free.

Adequate shelter in winter and shade in summer should be available to all pigs.

Pigs should not be raised on land which is grossly contaminated with poisonous plants or organisms that may either cause or transmit disease to such an extent that the health of pigs is affected. Consideration should be given to methods of reducing the buildup of such pathogens by the use of herd health programmes, such as routine vaccinations, parasite control and regular pasture rotation and spelling.

311

8.

Fire breaks should be established around pasture or open range systems where the risk of fires is high.

Where large groups are kept outdoors adequate feeding space and watering points are essential. Operators should ensure that younger or more timid pigs which may be subject to bullying have access to feed, or are confined with more evenly matched groups of pigs.

If grazing pigs are tethered to a long length of rope or chain, the design and length of the tether should not allow them to become entangled with housing, trees or with each other. The tether should also permit access to water at all

times. The harness should be checked regularly to ensure that there is no discomfort or injury to the animal. (see Appendix 2).

312

9.

1. General

APPENDIX 1

MINOR SURGICAL PROCEDURES

Managers or employees should not carry out minor surgical operations unless they are competent in such procedures. If necessary, advice should be sought on how minor surgical procedures should be performed. They should

understand that minor surgery causes little distress if carried out efficiently and with minimal restraint. Strict attention should be paid to:

. suitability of the area in which the operation is to be performed;

. the catching facilities;

. the type and amount of restraint;

. the selection and maintenance of instruments;

. hygiene;

. after-care of the animals.

Restraint used on pigs should be the minimum necessary to complete the procedures. The use of goading devices for moving and handling pigs should be minimised to avoid distress.

2. Castration

Castration should be avoided wherever possible.

If, however, castration is considered necessary, it should be performed by a competent operator as early as managment practices will allow. Castration using a knife is recommended provided the animal is adequately restrained. Good post-operative drainage is essential.

Castration of boars older than 8 weeks should be performed by a veterinarian using either local or general anaesthetic.

3. Tail-Docking

Where tail-biting is a problem, all aspects of the environment, feeding and management should be investigated to identify the contributing factors so that remedial action can be taken.

Tail-docking should be carried out before pigs are 7 days of age where it is being performed as a routine preventive measure.

313

10.

Tail-docking of pigs over 7 days of age should be performed only in an emergency.

4. Clipping of "Needle" Teeth

When performed, this procedure should be done within two days of birth to protect littermates and to prevent damage to the sow's udder.

5. Nose Ringing

This may need to be practised when pigs are kept on pasture. Rings should be placed through the cartilage of the top of the snout or the tissues separating the nostrils.

6. Identification

Where it is necessary to mark pigs for permanent identification the ear may be tattooed, tagged, notched or punched, or the body may be tattooed.

7. Backfat Measurement

The preferred method uses ultrasonic equipment. The use of mechanical probes should be discouraged.

8. Tusk Trimming

Tusk trimming of boars is advisable where injury to man or animals is likely to occur.

Acceptable methods of tusk trimming are bolt cutters, hack saw or embryotomy wire. The boar should be appropriately restrained, preferably aided by the administration of a sedative. No anaesthetic is required as the tusk lacks nerves for sensory innervation. Tusks should be severed cleanly and skilfully above the level of the gums without causing damage to other tissues.

3 1 4

11.

APPENDIX 2

ACCOMMODATION

1. Stocking Density

It is not possible to relate stocking density to welfare in a simple manner. Adequate welfare involves consideration of group size, pen size, age, breed, temperature, ventilation, lighting and other husbandry factors. The observance of any particular stocking density on its own cannot ensure the welfare of pigs. The suggested minimum space allowances in housed pigs based on contemporary techniques are shown in Table 1.

TABLE 1

MAXIMUM RECOMMENDED STOCKING DENSITIES FOR HOUSED PIGS

System

Minimum Space Allowance (m2 per Pig)

Comments

Growing pigs up to 10 kg in groups. 0.11 Approximately 20 to

11 - 20 kg. 0.18 30 per cent of space

21 - 40 kg. 0.32 allowance provides

41 - 60 kg. 0.44 for a dunging area.

61 - 80 kg. 0.56

81 - 100 kg. 0.65

Adult pigs in groups 1.4

Adult pigs in individual stalls 0.6 x 1.8 m

Boars in pens used for mating 6.25 Minimum length of

shortest side 2 m.

Lactating sows and litters: - stalls 3.2 With piglets up to

4 weeks of age.

- individual pens 5.6

- multisuckling groups 5.6 For each sow and

litter.

(Conversion factors: 1.0 m 2 = 10.8 ft2; 1.0 kg = 2.2 lb; 1 m = 39. 4 in)

315

12.

2. Temperature

Pigs, except the very young, are able to tolerate a wide range of temperatures without detriment to their well being provided temperature changes do not occur abruptly.

The ranges of temperature that afford optimum comfort for different classes of pigs are:

Piglets - newborn 27 - 35°C

Piglets - 3 weeks of age 24 - 30°C (reducing to 21°C at 5 weeks of age

Farrowing house 20 - 30°C

Weaners 20 1

u> o o O

Growers 15 - 30°C

Finishers 15 - 30°C

Sows and boars 15 - 30°C

During very hot weather (38°C or more) adult pigs are very susceptible to heat stress and steps should be taken to alleviate distress and avoid deaths. Pigs may die if transported in very hot weather.

3. Ventilation

It is necessary to strike a balance between the need to provide fresh air and prevent the build-up of noxious gases, and the need to protect pigs from draughts.

In general, if the level of irritant or toxic gases within a building is uncomfortable to man, it is also uncomfortable to pigs and may predispose them to respiratory disease.

The presence of ammonia is usually a reliable indicator of the build-up of noxious gases; it should not be allowed to exceed 20 parts per million (ppm) of air in an enclosed pig house without immediate corrective action being taken. (A level of 10-15 ppm ammonia in the air can be detected by smell. An ammonia level of from 25 to 35 ppm will cause eye and nasal irritation in man).

It is important to maintain an adequate airflow during hot weather to ensure housed pigs do not become overheated.

316

13.

4. Tethering

Tethering is an undesirable means of restraint and should not be used unless there is careful and continuous attention and a high level of expertise in the management of animals and equipment. Tethering can lead to problems in the welfare of sows and producers are encouraged to consider alternative systems of management in the establishment of piggeries.

Tethers, if used, should be capable of being adjusted for size, and fitted and maintained so that pigs are not subjected to injury and pain. The animals and tethers should be regularly inspected and the tethers should have a quick release mechanism.

317

14.

APPENDIX 3

HUMANE DESTRUCTION OF PIGS

Previous sections of this code have drawn attention to those circumstances when, for humane reasons, pigs may need to be humanely destroyed, e.g. injury or disease.

Whilst this task is aesthetically unpleasant to most people, the method of slaughter should be effective and cause sudden and painless death for the animal. It is equally important that the animal be handled quietly beforehand to ensure it is not unnecessarily distressed or alarmed.

The methods recommended hereunder are those which are considered the most suitable for a farm situation.

1. USE OF THEFIREARM

This is the preferred method of humanely destroying older pigs on the farm or following emergencies. Use of firearms on public property, e.g. roads, or in built-up areas may be illegal, and under those circumstances assistance should be sought from veterinary practitioners, the RSPCA or the Police.

The effectiveness of shooting is dependent upon the destruction of major centres at the back of the brain near the spinal cord. A common mistake is to direct the bullet too low, damaging frontal areas. Partial recovery may then occur.

a) Safety

The following aspects of firearms safety should be borne in mind:

. A .22 calibre rifle or .32 calibre humane killer pistol are adequate for humane destruction of most pigs. Where old, large boars are to be destroyed, the .32 calibre pistol is preferred.

. Any use of firearms is hazardous;

. Persons other than the marksman and a handler for the

animal should be cleared from the area or should stand well behind the marksman;

. Never fire while the animal is moving its head; wait patiently for a quiet interval before firing;

. To provide maximum impact and the least possibility of misdirection the range should be as short as circumstances permit;

. Whilst the humane killer pistol and captive-bolt pistol are designed to be pressed firmly on the head prior to being discharged, it is not safe to do this with a standard rifle or pistol.

3 1 8

15.

b) Methods

Temporal method: The pig is shot from the side of the head so that the bullet enters the skull at a point midway between the eyes and the base of the ear on the same side. The bullet should be directed horizontally into the skull. This method is preferred for adult pigs due to the heavier bone structure of the front of the skull.

Frontal method: The firearm should be aimed at a point midway across the forehead and (for adult pigs) about 2 cm above the level of the eyes, aiming horizontally into the skull.

Humane destruction of pigs:

"a" indicates recommended position for temporal method. (Suitable for firearms only).

"b" indicates recommended position for frontal method. (Suitable for firearm or captive-bolt pistol) .

2. USE OF THE CAPTIVE-BOLT PISTOL

An alternative to the firearm is a captive-bolt pistol which is safer since a blank cartridge is used. The operator does not have to be a marksman as the instrument's muzzle is firmly pressed against the skull before firing. It must be, however, be assumed that the animal has only been stunned and a follow-up method of ensuring death, such as bleeding-out, is required.

Blank cartridges for the captive-bolt pistol are colour-coded according to the amount of charge they contain. For best results, the manufacturer's directions should be followed on the most appropriate blank cartridge for pigs. Regular maintenance of the captive-bolt pistol is essential for efficient stunning.

(a) Method

When using the frontal method, the captive-bolt pistol can be used in the same position as that recommended for the firearm. To ensure death, pigs should be bled out as soon as possible after collapse.

3 1 9

16.

3. STUNNING BY CLUBBING

A hammer or other blunt, but heavy, object may be used to make a blow to the skull to render unconscious small, easily controlled piglets. The blow should be aimed at the centre of the forehead in the position indicated for shooting in the diagram above. The unconscious piglet should be immediately bled out to ensure death.

003 7h

1

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

PARLIAMENTARY PAPER No. 94 of 1990 ORDERED TO BE PRINTED

ISSN 0727-4181

0 7601=44 110403 90/20 415 Cat. No. 90 0392 9