Progress Reports - Poultry (Layers) Code

Meeting #10 – October 13 & 14, 2016

The first meeting following the completion of the Public Comment Period consisted of a two-day meeting in Ottawa. A great deal of work was undertaken to assist the Code Development Committee with its task of reviewing the more than 1900 submissions that resulted in over 20,000 individual comments that were submitted via the on-line public comment survey. The comments were summarized by Code section, and four working groups met via conference calls/virtual meetings to give the Committee a head start in reviewing comments.

As a result, the Code Development Committee was able to make effective use of its limited face-to-face time at the meeting, as was able to review all Code sections with the exception of Section 2: Layer Housing Systems. Given the complexity of this section, it was agreed that this section would benefit from at least one full day allocated to review it. As a result, comments on this section will be reviewed by the Code Development Committee at its second post-PCP meeting scheduled in November.

Once again, in an effort to provide recommendations for Code amendments to the Code Development Committee, three conference calls/virtual meetings were scheduled for the Layer Housing Working Group. The group has been tasked with reviewing comments on the section, as well as reviewing and recommending a revised format for the section to help producers understand this complex section. In addition, the Pullet Housing and Rearing Working Group will meet via conference call/virtual meeting prior to the November meeting to discuss pullet housing issues that were parked at the CDC meeting.

The meeting in November will be used primarily to review comments on the Layer Housing Section, process feedback from the Pullet Working Group on the parked issues, review comments on the Code Introduction and scope, and to finalize a list of Research Gaps. It is expected that this will be the last meeting of the Code Development Committee, and that the final Code will be released early in 2017.

Meeting 9 - May 9 & 10, 2016

The ninth meeting of the Code Development Committee consisted of a two-day meeting in Toronto. Since the last meeting, all of the Code sections, with the exception of the Layer Housing section, were sent to NFACC to prepare for the Public Comment Period. In addition, the Glossary Working Group met via a virtual meeting in mid-March. The updated glossary was also sent to NFACC to prepare for the Public Comment Period. A conference call of the full CDC took place in early April. The call allowed for the opportunity for CDC members to provide feedback on some of the discussions around Layer Housing transitions from the last meeting. The call was also used to firm up the dates and duration of the next meeting that had been scheduled for May.

Given that most of the Code had already been sent to NFACC for the Public Comment Period, the meeting in May focused primarily on reviewing outstanding issues related to housing for pullets and layer hens. The first day was used to review the format and layout of the Pullet Housing and Rearing and Layer Housing sections. The CDC also revisited space allowances for layer hens and foraging requirements, and then reviewed the entire Pullet Housing and Rearing section after a working group (which had met prior to the CDC meeting) had reformatted and re-ordered the section.

On the second day, the group was given a presentation about the Public Comment Period. It then turned its attention to finalizing a transition strategy that would see laying hens transitioned from conventional cage systems to furnished housing systems. After a great deal of discussion, the CDC was able to arrive at a consensus that will be included in the draft that will be posted for the Public Comment Period. The group then reviewed timelines and a work plan. Given that there is still some work to be done to finalize the Layer Housing section, and to amend the both the Pullet Housing and Rearing section as well as the Glossary, precise deadlines were not specified. However, given that the remaining work is limited to fine-tuning the existing draft, the Public Comment Period is targeted to commence in June.

Meeting 8 - February 26, 2016

The eighth meeting of the Code Development Committee consisted of a one-day meeting in Toronto. Since the last meeting, the CDC finished reviewing the remaining Recommended Practices in a virtual meeting in late December. Another virtual meeting was then scheduled for February 11th, during which the CDC discussed questions and comments that had been raised by CDC members on the draft Code. As a result, preambles, Requirements, and Recommended Practices were further clarified and/or strengthened.

The meeting in Toronto was scheduled specifically to give CDC members more opportunity to engage in more discussions on Layer Housing in a face-to-face setting, and specifically, to focus on possible transition strategies that the Code would specify to move laying hens from conventional housing systems. While the CDC was not able to arrive at consensus on this difficult issue, there was a great deal of discussion and ideas that were debated, which would form the basis for further dialogue.

The group then revisited its work plan to see if the deadlines that were agreed to in December were still attainable. Some modifications were made including the addition of another CDC conference call in April, and a CDC meeting in May. In addition, a Glossary Working Group was established to review terminology in the draft Code, and to ensure that the definitions reflected the use of the terms in the draft Code.

Meeting 7 - December 7, 8 & 9, 2015

The seventh meeting of the Code Development Committee took place over 3 days in in Ottawa. Since the last meeting in September, the section Working Groups (WG) met via virtual meetings 13 times to review the text in the Pullet Housing and Rearing, Layer Housing, Environmental Management, Feed and Water, Health and Husbandry, Transportation, and Euthanasia sections. In particular, the Pullet WG took on the task of drafting a separate Code section for pullets at the request of the CDC, in recognition of the importance that early experiences of pullets contribute to the welfare of hens in the layer barn. The important work of all Working Groups between face-to-face CDC meetings built the groundwork that would allow the Code Development Committee to focus its efforts on those components of the draft Code that are essential to building CDC member consensus and stakeholder acceptance.

The first day was allocated to allowing CDC members to update the group on stakeholder meetings that had convened since September. In addition, members reviewed the Pullet Housing and Rearing section for the first time. The review also included sub-sections in other Code sections that are related to managing pullets, such as Pullet Sourcing and Transition to Lay.

On the second day, the CDC commenced a thorough review of all the Requirements in the draft Code. This was done to ensure consistency in approach and language between the various sections (which, to date, had been drafted and reviewed in isolation of each other). The review was also used to help ensure that the Requirements are clearly written, understandable, measureable/assessable, practical, manageable, and attainable by most producers.

The review of the Requirements continued on the third day, after which, the CDC turned its attention to reviewing all of the Recommended Practices in the draft Code. As there was not enough time to finish the review, a conference call was scheduled for later in the month to finish reviewing Recommended Practices in sections 3 (Environmental Management); 4 (Feed and Water); and 5 (Health Management and Husbandry Practices). The group then developed a work plan that included dates for future meetings and conference calls, as well as deadlines for finalizing Code sections, with the exception of the Layer Housing section, for the Public Comment Period.

Meeting 6 – September 22 & 23, 2015

The sixth meeting of the Layer Code Development Committee took place over 2 days in Ottawa. The Code Development Committee discussed feedback from stakeholders on the current approach under consideration for housing for layers. The group then reviewed and amended the Code section on Layer Housing. A review of the section on Transportation commenced later in the afternoon. Given time constraints, it was decided that the section review should focus on Requirements and Recommended Practices only. A summary of the Requirements and Recommended Practices of the section was prepared and circulated to the CDC prior to the start of the meeting on Day 2.

Most of day 2 was spent reviewing Requirements and Recommended Practices in the Transportation section. The group then turned its attention to the Health Management and Husbandry Practices section to complete the review it started, but was unable to complete at the meeting in March. The remaining time in the meeting was used to review and discuss a work plan and schedule to ensure that the Code will be ready for public comment for spring, 2016. Given the amount of work to do still, it was agreed that the next meeting would be extended by one day to allow three days of discussion. The date of the next meeting was confirmed as December 7, 8 and 9, 2015.

Meeting 5 - June 10 & 11, 2015

The fifth meeting of the Layer Code Development Committee took place over two days in Ottawa. First on the agenda was a discussion that included identifying some of the more critical issues that will be included in the Code, and then reviewing the need to develop an outreach strategy to facilitate dialogue between CDC members and their stakeholders. NFACC guidance around stakeholder communications was reviewed.

The rest of the day was spent discussing how the Code should deal with the very complex issue of housing for layer hens, both in cage and non-cage systems. In particular, the committee focused on the work of two Housing working groups that participated in several conference calls between the March and June meetings. This work included developing the requisite detail around the general direction provided by the CDC at its March meeting, which then provided a definitive starting point to facilitate meaningful and more comprehensive discussion in June.

Day two opened with a discussion on the timing and expectations of CDC members with respect to the stakeholder outreach strategy. The group then dealt with some housekeeping items that included reviewing and revising the work plan and schedule. Given the complexity of some of the topics that are in the Code, it was determined that the original schedule is not achievable. As a result, there was agreement to schedule an additional meeting in December and to target March/April, 2016 for the Public Comment Period.

A great deal of the remaining meeting time was allocated to finalizing the CDC’s approach to layer housing. At the recommendation of the two Housing working groups, the CDC agreed that adding a new section to the Code that covers Housing and Management of Pullets is warranted. The structure of the section was discussed and agreed on, and a new Pullet Working Group was established. Following confirmation of the meeting dates in September, another CDC meeting was scheduled for December 8 and 9.

Meeting 4 - March 12 & 13, 2015

The fourth meeting of the Layer Code Development Committee (CDC) was a two-day meeting that was held in Ottawa. The meeting opened with a review of the answers that were provided by CDC members prior to the meeting to questions about housing for layers and pullets in Canada. The pre-meeting assignment generated lots of discussion, and solid direction was agreed to on many key aspects. The 2 Housing Working Groups (WG) were tasked with taking the CDC direction, and adding the requisite details prior to the next meeting. It is expected that the WG efforts will lead to a first working draft of the Housing section for the CDC to discuss at its next meeting. Several WG calls were scheduled for the coming weeks.

The group then reviewed the updated On-Farm Euthanasia section, and discussed possible appendices that can be provided to producers for further guidance. The Lighting and Litter Management sub-sections of the Environmental Management sections were reviewed again.

The start of day 2 opened with a review of the first draft of the newly combined Health Management and Husbandry Practices section. The majority of the day was spent reviewing this section, and in spite of this, there are several sub-sections that the CDC was unable to discuss.

The date of the next meeting was confirmed as June 10 and 11, 2015 in Ottawa. Dates for the meeting #6 were scheduled for September, 2015. It is expected that the September meeting will be the last meeting before the Public Comment Period.

Meeting 3 - December 17 & 18, 2014

The third meeting of the Layer Code Development Committee (CDC) was a two-day meeting that was held in Ottawa. The meeting opened with a brief review of the NFACC Code Development guidance. The CDC then reviewed the first draft on the On-Farm Euthanasia section. The remaining sub-sections in the Environmental Management section, as it refers to housing, were then discussed.

On day 2, the group turned its attention to the section on Handling and Transportation, but was limited to how much of the section could be reviewed by the progress made in previous conference calls by the Transportation Working Group (WG). Some issues were referred back to the WG for further discussion.

In the afternoon, the CDC embarked on an open discussion on housing for layers and pullets, so that the Code Secretariat would have some direction to draw on in writing the Housing section of the Code.

Conference calls were scheduled for the Husbandry, Bird Health, On-Farm Euthanasia, Handling and Transportation, and Environmental Management Working Groups. The date of the next meeting was confirmed for March 12 and 13 in Ottawa. Dates for meeting #5 were scheduled for June, 2015.

Meeting 2 - October 1 & 2, 2014

The second meeting of the Layer Code Development Committee (CDC) was a two-day meeting that was held in Ottawa. The main objectives of the meeting were to:

  • Introduce the new CDC chair and new CDC members
  • Re-orient CDC members to the NFACC Code Process
  • Review Code development steps and revised timing
  • Discuss and review the process for reviewing drafts of Code
  • Review draft sections of the Code, including Feed and Water, Environmental Management sub-sections on Ventilation and Air Quality, Temperature, and Noise.

Given some overlap between the Poultry (Meat) Code and the Poultry (Layer) Code, it was agreed that the next focus will be on the Transportation and Euthanasia sections. Both working groups will meet via conference calls during October and November.

The third meeting of the layer CDC will take place in Ottawa on December 17 and 18.

Meeting 1 - September 26 & 27, 2013

The first meeting of the Layer CDC was a two-day meeting that was held in Ottawa. The main objectives of the meeting were to:

  • Provide an opportunity for CDC members to meet and dialogue
  • Introduce CDC members to the NFACC, and review NFACC’s role in addressing domestic and international market expectations relative to farm animal welfare
  • Familiarize CDC members with the NFACC Code Process, and the roles of the CDC, the chair, its members, and the Code Development Secretariat
  • Establish guidelines on how the committee will function
  • Agree on a skeleton Code of Practice outline
  • Establish Section Review Working Groups to assist the Code Development Secretariat with drafting the Code
  • Review and Discuss the draft Scientific Committee Report prior to being submitted for Peer Review
  • Agree on next steps.

The first day of the meeting focused on a review of the updated NFACC process that will guide the Code review and update for the Layer Code. The committee also spent a great deal of time reviewing and agreeing on specifics around the scope of the code, as well as a preliminary code structure which will provide an outline of the updated code’s sections and sub-sections.

The majority of the second day focused on the conclusions contained in the draft Layer Code Scientific Committee (SC) Report. The SC Chair (and CDC member), provided a comprehensive presentation that reviewed the report’s conclusions and the correlating supporting research. She also reviewed the  relevant sections in the Poultry (Meat) SC Report that are expected to inform the layer code development process, as well. After some discussion and suggestions for some very minor amendments, the CDC agreed that the Layer Code SC Report addressed the Priority Welfare Issues that were identified in April, 2012, and that it was ready to go to Peer Review.

The CDC established eight Section Review Working Groups to assist the Code Development Secretariat with drafting sections of the Code. It is expected that these working groups will meet via teleconference calls between face-to-face CDC meetings. Section drafts will be discussed by the CDC after the working groups have provided their input to the various drafts.

The second meeting of the CDC was tentatively scheduled for February, 2014 in Ottawa. Dates will be confirmed once funding for the next phase of the codes development project is secured.