Thursday, September 24, 2015

Germany pushes ahead on poultry welfare

Representatives from the German poultry industry organization ZDG have made public a new Poultry Charter, presenting the document to the federal agriculture minister, Christian Schmidt.
ZDG President, Leo Graf von Drechsel, said the Charter is proof of how seriously his members take their responsibilities to their animals, people and the environment, now and in the future. The whole sector gave input into its 6 chapters, which cover such hot topics including animal welfare, the use of antibiotics, disease prevention and consumer information.
Schmidt praised the industry for its active engagement in delivering this latest initiative. Having laid the foundation stone in July by ending routine beak-trimming of laying hens and fattening turkeys, the Charter provides new requirements and ambitions for the whole poultry meat sector, he said. It is a sign of the readiness of the industry to meet the expectations of the market and of consumers, he added.
The Charter describes the poultry sector and how it works. It makes clear that those whose standards fall short will not be allowed to remain in the organization, while also setting out what the sector requires from politicians and society so that it can achieve its stated aim of making Germany the best country in the world for poultry.

New regulations on Pekin duck welfare in Lower Saxony

The German region of Lower Saxony has made a significant step to improve the welfare of farmed Pekin ducks. These birds will from now on have access to water to meet their behavioral needs for preening their feathers in addition to that for drinking.
An agreement was signed earlier this week by the region’s agriculture minister, Christian Meyer, and Friedrich-Otto Ripke, president of the local poultry association, NGW.
Ripke commented that his association is in favour of improving animal welfare by any means that is practical, proven to be good for animals and workable on farms. The fact that most of the welfare suggestions have come from within the industry is noteworthy, he said.
Among the points covered by the agreement is that if access to bathing water is impossible, the ducks must be able to immerse their heads in water. Scientific studies have shown that open troughs and bowls are adequate for the birds to carry out these natural requirements.
Up to now, ducks only needed water provided for drinking but all farms with more than 500 fattening Pekin ducks will have to provide water for bathing from the end of 2016.
Also under the agreement, all duck keepers will have to participate in an animal health scheme. According to Ripke, Pekin ducks are robust and rarely require antibiotics but, as for other farmed species, duck farmers will have to maintain records of their state of health and make them available to the authorities.
Furthermore, ducks must also have permanent access to manipulable materials and there will be higher requirements for the training of animal keepers. All these measures are aimed at maintaining the reputation of Pekin duck keepers with the public, according to Ripke. Lower Saxony has around 800 Pekin duck farmers with places for a total of around 1.2 million birds.
Germany is 72 percent self-sufficient in duck meat. About 50,000 Muscovy ducks are also reared in Lower Saxony and these have been covered by an agreement over minimal standards since the beginning of 2013. Beak trimming, which was a normal practice to prevent feather pecking and cannibalism, was banned in 2014 and replaced with other precautionary measures.

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