Poultry Code – Progress Updates

June 25-26, 2015

The meeting represented the last time that the Code Development Committee would meet prior to the draft Code being posted for the Public Comment Period (PCP) in October. As a result, the group was committed to ensuring that the consensus-based draft represented a fair balance of the diverse views around the table.

Since the last meeting, the CDC had met via conference call 15 times to finish reviewing the Requirements and Recommended Practices, a process which had commenced at the May meeting. In addition, a Code Editing Sub-Committee met in Ottawa for the entire day on June 24 to review and revise the remaining text in the Code. The CDC meeting opened on June 25 with a progress report of the work done since the May meeting, and heartfelt thanks to all the members who participated in the many calls, and to the members of the Code Editing Sub-Committee who dedicated valuable time to reviewing the draft.

Given both the importance and complexity around the topic of on-farm euthanasia, the majority of the first day was allocated to reviewing current and emerging science regarding euthanasia methods, and then discussing the relevance to the current Code draft. The group then turned its attention to fine-tuning sections on stocking densities, and preparing and loading for transport.

Day two opened with a brief report on the work of the Code Editing Sub-Committee which was seeking the approval of the CDC over proposed direction around Personnel Skills and Knowledge, and some text in other sections. The rest of the morning was spent reviewing issues that had been parked during the lengthy Code development process, and then providing input on some suggested structural changes to the draft Code.

In the afternoon, the group reviewed all of the appendices, and provided direction on content, as well as the value of keeping them in the Code, or whether referencing content under Resources for Further Information was more appropriate. The CDC then reviewed next steps, and developed a plan for dealing with the few remaining outstanding matters. Post PCP meetings in January and February were scheduled. The chair thanked members for their hard work and commitment to the Code development process, which commenced with an orientation meeting in October, 2011.

May 7-8, 2015

Following the direction of the CDC at its previous meeting, the Code Secretary restructured the draft Code in an effort to reduce or eliminate duplication. The proposed revised structure no longer differentiates between production facilities and now includes sections on: Hatcheries, Flock Health Management, Housing and Environment, Feed and Water, Husbandry Practices, Preparing and Loading for Transport, Euthanasia, and Mass Depopulation.

It was agreed that the draft Requirements and Recommended Practices needed to be reviewed within the context of each other to reduce duplication and ensure consistency. Most of the 2-day meeting was allocated to reviewing Requirements, independent of the accompanying text. As a result, many duplicate Requirements were deleted, and remaining Requirements were strengthened and clarified. A series of virtual meetings of the CDC will be scheduled to review Requirements, Recommended Practices and related appendices for sections that were not able to be covered at the meeting.

The CDC also agreed that there was value in establishing an Editing sub-committee review the introductory text in each section and sub-section with a goal of condensing the Code to a more realistic length. A sub-committee was established, and a full-day meeting was scheduled for June 24, the day before the final pre-PCP CDC meeting, which is scheduled for June 25 & 26 in Ottawa.

February 4-5, 2015

The transition to a new Code Secretary took place in January with numerous subcommittee conference calls leading up to this meeting. Kudos to the new and past Code Secretaries and the staff liaisons for their significant efforts to ensure a smooth transition. 

Following in person introductions, the CDC reviewed the section on Mass Depopulation and then reviewed the newly combined section on Turkey Breeders and Commercial Turkeys. While satisfactory progress was made the group was not able to review it in its entirety on day 1. The first day ended with a review of five issues that were outstanding in the Transportation section.

For the start of day 2, the CDC turned its attention back to the combined Turkey section, and then moved to a discussion of the Flock Health Management section.

Timelines and approaching milestones were discussed, noting that the break between funding projects created some continuity challenges. Some sections had also not yet been reviewed by the CDC. The group also discussed the layout of the draft Code, noting that excessive length created by repetition between the four broiler, turkey, and breeder sections needed to be reduced. The Code Secretary was asked to review the layout to reduce or eliminate duplicated text.

It was agreed that an adjustment to the Code’s schedule was warranted given the additional work still required. The previously scheduled April meeting was rescheduled to May 7 and 8, and a final pre-PCP meeting was scheduled for June 25 and 26. As a result, it is now expected that the Public Comment Period will commence in October.

December 9-10, 2014

The Code Secretary informed the Code Development Committee that she was resigning as a result of accepting another employment position. NFACC was in the process of securing a replacement with the necessary experience to facilitate a relatively seamless transition.

The rest of day 1 was spent reviewing the section on Broiler Chickens, the draft Code Introduction and identifying additional resources for the Resources for Further Information section and some appendices.

On day 2, the CDC reviewed Broiler Breeders and On-Farm Euthanasia. With the scheduled Public Comment Period (PCP) quickly approaching, an action plan to address outstanding sections was developed. The memberships of the sub-committee rosters were reviewed, and several conference calls were scheduled. The next meetings were confirmed for February 3 & 4 and then April 29 & 30, both in Ottawa.

September 10-11, 2014

Following the renewal of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada funding to NFACC for the completion of the Poultry Code, the Code Development Committee met face-to-face in Ottawa for the first time in nearly a year.

The meeting started with introductions, as there are a few new faces on the Committee since the last meeting. The Code Development Secretary reviewed some key principles in Code revision (consensus, confidentiality), and shared the new projected timeline for completion of this Code. The goal is to make the draft Code available for Public Comment in July-August 2015, with final publication planned for April 2016.

The group reviewed the current version of the Table of Contents for the revised Code, noting the challenge between keeping information for the various commodity groups self-contained versus the need to avoid repetition (resulting in a lengthy document).

The rest of the first day was spent reviewing and discussing the Transport chapter (which applies to all adult birds). On the second day, the group finished its review of the Transport chapter, then moved on to the Hatchery section. The group was grateful for the input of CFIA Hatchery Specialist, Teresa Cereno on this draft section. The meeting concluded with a commitment by all members to the new timeline. The sub-committees will continue to develop various sections of the document in anticipation of the next face-to-face meeting. The Code Development Secretary will draft a schedule of sub-committee meetings (via teleconference/Web).

Early 2014

The report of the Poultry Scientific Committee: Code of Practice for the care and handling of chickens, turkeys and breeders: Review of Scientific Research on Priority Issues is published on the NFACC web site.

Project funding for the Poultry Code expired at the end of March 2014. The Canadian Animal Health Coalition and NFACC have applied for renewed funding under Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Growing Forward 2 initiative. During the funding gap, some work on the Poultry Code continued via teleconference call and web meetings, thanks to the sponsorship of the commodity groups. The Transport sub-committee met three times by teleconference/web meeting to produce another draft of this section. The Broiler-Breeder sub-committee met six times to work through its section.

Following the renewal of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada funding under Growing Forward 2 (announced July 31, 2014), plans were made for a face-to-face meeting of the Code Development Committee in September 2014.

October – December 2013

The Hatchery and Euthanasia sub-committees met by teleconference/web meeting to advance drafts of their respective sections. Both groups made good progress and have produced drafts that they feel are ready to be reviewed by the entire Code Development Committee at the next face-to-face meeting.

September 12-13, 2013

The Code Development Committee met for two days in Ottawa to continue the process of revising the Code of Practice for Poultry. The group reviewed the proposed structure of the new Code, which covers four commodity groups, striving for a layout that is logical but without excessive duplication among the commodity sections. Then, the Committee took its second look at the Hatchery section. On the second day, the group discussed the cross-commodity sections: Transport and Euthanasia. Sub-committees were formed to provide input and continue revisions in the time before the next face-to-face meeting. 

September 2013 - Scientific Committee Update

The report of the Scientific Committee:  Code of Practice for the care and handling of chickens, turkeys and breeders: Review of Scientific Research on Priority Issues was submitted for Peer Review in June 2013. The Scientific Committee has reviewed the feedback and the document is being edited to reflect the input of the Peer Reviewers. The report is expected to be finalized by later this fall. Once final, it will serve as an important resource for the Poultry Code Development Committee in drafting the new Code of Practice. 

March 1, 2013

The Poultry CDC met at the offices of the Canadian Hatching Egg producers for their first face-to-face meeting. Having reviewed most of the process and logistical issues associated with the Code renewal process during the recent teleconference call, the main purposes of this meeting were to:

  • Review the completed report of the Scientists’ Committee on the Priority Welfare Issues identified at the October 2011 Orientation meeting. Following that review, the CDC is asked to acknowledge that SC report is ready to move into the peer review process
  • To generate an outline (table of contents) for the new Code
  • To identify gaps in the content of the old Code (as compared to the proposed outline) and the resources needed to fill thee gaps, so that the Code Development Secretary can proceed with drafting the new document.

The meeting was a very productive one, successfully meeting all of its objectives. In addition, the group reviewed the re-formatted Hatchery section from the old Code, providing feedback and direction for revision. Based on the feedback from this meeting, the Code Secretary will work on generating new drafts of the Code sections for review at the next meeting.

February 22, 2013 - Teleconference

The Poultry Code Development Committee met by teleconference to lay the groundwork for the upcoming face-to-face meeting. The group reviewed the Code Development Process, project timelines, discussed CDC member and Chair responsibilities, consensus building, consultation, and confidentiality.

October 4, 2011 – Orientation Session

A meeting of stakeholders was held to launch the process of revising the Code of Practice for poultry (meat), turkeys, and hatching eggs. Due to the number of Codes currently under review, and the resulting budgetary and HR limitations, the process for renewing this Code will be somewhat different from usual. The actual Code Development Committee (CDC) for poultry will not be struck until approximately on year from now; however, the Poultry Scientists’ Committee (SC) will begin its mandate now. For the next year, the SC will carry out its review of Priority Welfare Issues and ultimately produce its report based on that detailed literature review.

This orientation group included representatives from the chicken, turkey, hatching egg, and the hatchery sectors, as well as: government, animal welfare organizations, animal welfare enforcement bodies, the transportation sector, the veterinary profession, restaurant and food service sectors, and the members of the Poultry Scientists’ Committee. The NFACC team reviewed the Code Development Process, project timelines, CDC member responsibilities, and issues of consensus and confidentiality.

The focus of the meeting, however, was to identify the Priority Welfare Issues that would be turned over to the Scientists’ Committee for a detailed literature review. The resulting Scientists’ Report will assist the CDC in developing science-informed requirements and recommended practices in the new Code.

Following a brainstorming session to identify all welfare issues related to the four poultry sectors, the group prioritized and ultimately whittled the list down to nine PWIs for the SC to tackle:

  • Air & litter quality (broilers, broiler breeders, turkeys)
  • Lighting regimens (broilers, turkeys)
  • Stocking density (broilers, turkeys, broiler breeders)
  • Surgical interventions (beaks, toes)
  • Lameness (broiler breeders, chickens, turkeys) 
  • Feed restriction (broiler & turkey breeders)
  • Euthanasia (methods – all sizes/ages of animals, including unhatched eggs)
  • Aggression (broiler breeders – breeds, management)
  • Feather-pecking & cannibalism (turkeys & broiler breeders)

For the next year, the SC will carry out a detailed review of the scientific literature related to these issues, and generate a report. That report will then be reviewed by the eventual Poultry CDC, peer-reviewed, and ultimately released to the public when the draft Code is released for public comment.

Scientists’ Committee Activity

The Poultry Scientists’ Committee met regularly by teleconference throughout the fall of 2011 and all of 2012. Each of the nine PWIs was assigned to one or two lead SC members, who then worked closely with the Science Writer to generate and refine drafts of each section. Refined drafts were then reviewed by the entire SC, and the resulting report was finalized by the end of 2012.

Code Development Committee Formed

Throughout 2012, the NFACC team met several time by teleconference with representatives of the four commodity groups covered by this Code. The purpose of these meetings was to keep everyone updated on the progress of the SC, and also to initiate the formation of the Poultry Code Development Committee.