VEGA News Item

VEGA Responds to Consultation on Welfare of Poultry at Slaughter - 30/11/2006
VEGA has responded to the DEFRA consultation on a Code of Practice for the Welfare of Poultry at Slaughter
VEGA has responded to the DEFRA consultation on a Code of Practice for the Welfare of Poultry at Slaughter.

1. We congratulate DEFRA in producing such a comprehensive code in an accessible form and in a production that is robust and fit for use in the conditions of slaughterhouses. Excuses from slaughterhouses that copies are unavailable must count for nothing.

2. The Codes should allow for further developments in this rapidly-moving subject of the exploitation of birds and the environment and debate over ethics. We note the following topics in this regard.

2.1 The FAWC’s current studies on the slaughter of poultry and suggestions for gradings on welfare.

2.2 The relevance of killing game, wild and farmed, for purposes of food production, pest control, and recreation.

2.3 Greater demands for recording and information on killings carried out without prior stunning, as well as for data on DOAs and results of meat inspection (from which details of pre-slaughter conditions of rearing and handling could be traced, analysed and dealt with). Preparations should be anticipated for scoring outputs on a welfare basis (such as the Five Freedoms) in the style of the MHS’s HASs. These results should be available for public inspection and elements of the Animal Welfare Act relating to collections of animals should be inserted into the Codes, especially with regard to rights of entry by local authorities.

2.4 Regulations on the licensing, training, and frequency of fitness for purpose must be strengthened in an industry that is attracting low-paid workers of low calibre to do the dirty work for a public greedy for meretriciously cheap food and consequently sagging standards. The sheer scale of the killing industry calls for further consideration. Special care must be entertained for spent layers and breeding stock of low value in the food chain.

2.5 Culling and on-site slaughtering need urgent consideration as eventualities on a great scale or routine practices to obviate long and arduous journeys prior to slaughter. The Draft Code must be clarified on these matters: more guidance is needed on the use of gases and mixtures. Is it feasible to use carbon monoxide, for instance, in low concentrations and admixture? Plenty of experience from human accidents and suicide attempts indicate relevant properties of carbon monoxide. It is a method used on farms, with condemned stock confined in a building into which exhaust from a tractor is directed.

2.6 We reiterate our objections to misleading descriptions that are likely to generate complacency and misunderstanding. The Draft Code perpetuates this fault. What welfare is there in the slaughter and killing of poultry subjected to conditions of war reaching to the proportions of massacres? The Draft Code should be named Conditions and Control of the Killing, Slaughter and Culling of Poultry.

2.7 In a similar style of clarity many of the “shoulds” must be replaced with “musts” and deletions of words such as “avoidable” and “unnecessary” as applied to excitement, pain, and suffering must be made: they fudge issues and blunt legal processes.

3. Our comments and the final Code must apply to all uses of poultry in the production of commodities introduced into the UK from within or without the EU and to products as ingredients in composites (eg manufactured foods).  

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