Canada’s chicken farmers follow some of the strictest regulations in the world when it comes to caring for their birds.
Chicken Farmers of Canada’s animal care program is the envy of countries around the world. Many Canadians are surprised to learn that every single chicken farmer in Canada is mandated to follow a national animal care program that enforces strict standards for the care and handling of chickens.
An animal care program that gives Canadians peace of mind
“We designed an animal care program to demonstrate and maintain the high animal care standards on our farms,” says Lisa Bishop-Spencer, Director of Brand and Communications at Chicken Farmers of Canada. “It’s the only program that’s capable of ensuring that animal care standards are implemented and audited across every farm in Canada.”
“What you see around the world in terms of animal care is a patchwork quilt,” says veterinarian Dr. Christine Power, Director of Animal Care and Sustainability at Chicken Farmers of Canada. “Each company sets its own set of standards based on its own defined areas of expertise, but there’s no common body like we have in Canada.”
Chicken Farmers of Canada’s nationally mandated animal care program is the only one that’s applied across every chicken farm in Canada, and boasts a strong set of program requirements, mandatory regulations, third-party audits, and enforcement measures.
Standards informed by science and practical experience
The Chicken Farmers of Canada’s animal care program is informed by scientific research and practical experience from the farm.
“It’s based on a code of practice that was developed through the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC),” says Power. “It takes place under a committee structure, which has diverse stakeholders representing government, farmers, animal welfare advocates, food processors, transporters, veterinarians, researchers, restaurants, and retailers.”
Public consultation is also part of the process. Canada is unique in having this decision-making model that brings together a full spectrum of experts and stakeholders to set animal welfare standards.
Spreading knowledge about chicken care on Canadian farms
“There are an awful lot of misconceptions out there about how chickens are raised,” says Bishop-Spencer. “This program helps demonstrate that Canadian farmers treat their birds well and that the farmers are committed to delivering on animal health and welfare on the farm.”
According to Bishop-Spencer, common misconceptions include myths surrounding density, feed, barn cleaning, and mobility. In Canada, chickens are free-run, with room to move and grow; they have unlimited access to food and water, and chicken barns are thoroughly cleaned after every flock.
“This isn’t a cold, calculated business,” says Power. “Raising chickens is a passion. These farmers take caring for their chickens very seriously.”
Canada’s animal care systems are robust and well-designed, and should give Canadians confidence in their food purchasing decisions.