Common global poultry welfare practices

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A recent article by Hendrix Genetics detailed the creation and roll out of a structured welfare program for all species offered by the breeding company.

The program has been created by a dedicated animal welfare team, consisting of representatives for each species, and includes standard operating procedures for:

  • Animal handling and treatment
  • Animal euthanasia
  • Staff training
  • Welfare policies
  • Auditing (both internal and external)

As each species differs in their needs, it was important to form different project groups that focus on each animal species. Within Hybrid Turkeys, the turkey business unit, improving processes, enhancing animal welfare, and ensuring a safe working environment for employees are the main focus of the welfare program.

Common best practices around the world

Two major components of the turkey animal welfare program include creating standard practices to be implemented globally and enhanced training for employees.

A large-scale initiative that began in 2014, was to roll out new training and standard practices surrounding the euthanasia of turkeys. Hendrix Genetics key team members reviewed all approved methods of euthanasia to search for a method that was most humane for the bird, provided a high level of safety and compliance for the staff, and that would be most accepted by society. After careful consideration, it was decided to move to CO2 systems for euthanasia in all production locations around the world. Integration of these units is complete in Canada and Poland, and in France, Hendrix’s largest production area, is already underway. Over the next three years 240 units throughout France will be installed.

Not only is it important to make sure that all the right tools are in place, but it is crucial to put in place clear guidelines and training for employees.

A ‘Euthanasia decision tree’ was created and is posted as a reminder in all locations to ensure employees are making informed and timely decisions surrounding the euthanasia of birds. Also, an internal “See something, Say something” campaign was created to encourage employees to speak up, in a confidential way, if they think there may be an animal welfare concern.

Animal health and wellbeing is at the core of poultry business. These initiatives are just a few examples of the efforts made to continuously improve the welfare of animals and to set an example for the industry.

Dr. Helen Wojcinski Science and Sustainability Manager, Hybrid Turkeys