The chicken and duck industries in 10 Asian countries will benefit from new poultry animal welfare guidelines proposed by The University of Queensland for ASEAN (the Association of South East Asian Nations).
“These guidelines and standards cover animal cruelty, animal welfare, biosecurity issues and husbandry practices that affect quality of animal product, environmental issues and even nutritional issues,” he said.
“As ASEAN progresses to a single economy it is essential that uniform standards are introduced across ASEAN member States which include Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia.
“The standards will initially be used mainly for trade within and between ASEAN partners but will have implications for trade with the European Union and also globally.
“They will be voluntary and will identify producers that are operating at a high level. Eventually it is hoped that take-up will be high, to benefit both animals and consumers, and will extend to trade with outside nations.
“While all customers demand food safety as a mandatory requirement of the food they buy, only some customers demand other standards related to the environment, animal cruelty and workers’ health and safety.”
Professor Phillips said ASEAN countries had decided to tackle the ASEAN broiler (hens raised specifically for their meat), layer and duck industries first as these were seen to be priority industries across all member states.
The consultant group has prepared Good Animal Husbandry Practices (GAHP) for animal welfare meat chickens (broilers), layer hens and ducks, in consultation with member states.
Professor Phillips said some countries had internal standards and all were signatories to the World Animal Health Organisation standards, which include a standard for broiler, but not layer or duck production.
“These provide a baseline to which all production within a country must comply but the GAHP standard will provide accreditation for high quality producers. Implementation and verification is the subject of an ASEAN task force currently being formulated,” he said.
“Poultry production is a well-established provider of high quality food in the region, where there is insufficient land for cattle production.
“Thailand in particular has an internationally significant poultry flock.
“Exports, especially to the EU are increasing rapidly, especially since 2012 when the EU market was opened to Thai uncooked broiler meat, taking advantage of low feed costs.”
Professor Phillips said UQ tendered for the work, and benefited from an experienced team at the Centre, including animal welfare project manager Michelle Sinclair, and the services of the Australian governments’ former head of the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy, Dr Peter Thornber.
The Centre for Animal Welfare and Ethics is based in UQ’s School of Veterinary Science, which this year celebrates its 80th anniversary.