An updated draft code of practice for meat chickens and meat breeding chickens has been published by Defra.

The code follows a consultation carried out last year and was presented to Parliament on Tuesday (9 January). If there are no objections, it will come into force in March 2018.

BVA president John Fishwick said: “We welcome the Government’s recognition of the vital role the veterinary profession plays in poultry welfare, with further references throughout the updated draft code to the importance of seeking veterinary advice.”

The current code exists to give owners and breeders of meat chickens guidance on how to comply with relevant welfare legislation. However, it has not been updated since 2002.

Defra says that the new code aims to provide up-to-date guidance on the current legislation, maintain animal welfare standards and reflect the latest scientific and veterinary knowledge.

John Fishwick continued: “We are particularly pleased to see the recommendation that welfare outcomes should be used to assess and monitor the ongoing welfare of the birds as part of the farm health and welfare plan, and with the signposting to the Humane Slaughter Association’s Poultry Catching and Handling Technical Note within the code.

“The British poultry industry already has some of the highest welfare standards in the world and the veterinary profession and poultry industry will continue to work with Defra on further enhancing animal welfare codes to reflect best industry practice.”

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