The Victorian Government is reviewing poultry welfare science – and this is a good thing

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There‚Äôs been some news regarding the development of Australia‚Äôs poultry welfare standards.  

We‚Äôve written about the development of these standards previously, but here is a quick catch up. 

Essentially, the poultry welfare standards will govern the way all poultry species in Australia are treated for at least the next decade.   It‚Äôs a rare opportunity to improve the lives of millions of animals. The standards are intended to reflect the latest in animal welfare science ‚Äì but unfortunately this hasn‚Äôt been the case so far (you can read more here about our concerns regarding the influence cage egg producers have had on the process.)

The RSPCA has been involved in the review process from the beginning and the one thing we’ve been asking for repeatedly is an independent scientific review. This is fairly common practice for standards that are supposed to be based on science – and countries like Canada, New Zealand and the UK regularly commission such reviews to inform the development of animal welfare standards. In fact, it’s these types of reviews – and the fact that the science says battery cages are indefensible from an animal welfare point of view - that led to these countries phasing out battery cages.

To date, our requests have been ignored.

But, in positive news, the Victorian Government has decided to commission its own independent review of poultry welfare science to inform its position on the draft standards.

This move suggests the Victorian Government shares our concerns about the lack of scientific evidence supporting the current draft standards. The integrity of the standards and the development process is being seriously questioned – and it’s about time too.

While this is a great step forward, the only way to properly address the major scientific flaws of the current standards is for a full independent review of the relevant standards. We’re asking for the standards and guidelines process to be put on hold so the draft standards can be revised and amended based on the findings of that review before they’re released for public consultation.

If the Australian governments want to continue promoting how scientific our animal welfare standards are, this needs to occur as soon as possible.

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