Poultry International - June 2017 - 18
18 ❙ PoultryInternational
FUTURE OF POULTRY WELFARE
there is a growing body of scientific evidence
and science-based recommendations that can
help to improve poultry welfare in a measurable way. As this increases, it will become ever
harder to simply dismiss all welfare demands
as being part of an ill-informed animal rights
According to the Universities Federation for
Animal Welfare: "Science informs, motivates
Global players, including BRF, are increasingly keen to
and facilitates advances in animal welfare by
emphasize their welfare credentials.
providing a strong evidence base for changing
attitudes and practices, and by creating practical and ef(FAO), a lack of welfare legislation may be keeping
fective solutions to welfare problems."
producers out of international markets.
How welfare demands shape future poultry production
Yet change is occurring. Of the 99 companies in the
will depend on who controls the agenda.
latest BBFAW, 11 are from outside Europe, the U.S. and
Canada, including from Brazil, China and Thailand. CIWF
Ever less a rich world concern
says that welfare allows companies to move up the value
Welfare is often viewed as a developed world concern,
chain and enter new markets.
unaffordable for the developing world. Yet as the developing
world becomes richer, demanding more meat, its consumers
Future barrier to trade?
will become more sophisticated. Once volumes are satisfied,
As welfare develops piecemeal, there is a risk of more
consumers tend to move towards perceived quality.
divergence. In practice, however, countries developing
But will the developing world be able to afford welfare
welfare codes tend to look to what others have already
standards with so many mouths to feed and priorities to meet?
implemented, resulting in broadly similar standards.
The BVPA points out that, for much of the developing
Looking longer term, however, the danger grows that welworld, bigger issues for producers may include extremes of clifare becomes a trade barrier.
mate, natural predators and endemic diseases, and these may
Welfare trade disputes remain a long way off, but the
outweigh any welfare "benefits" from free range, for example.
World Trade Organization is paying attention to the area. In
Tips for implementing broiler chicken welfare guidelines: www.WATTAgNet.com/articles/20668
However, it also notes that it will be the expanding aspirational
middle class with disposable income that will be likely to drive
meat and egg production in some developing countries.
Standards that may appear to have little immediate local value may, in fact, offer poultry producers opportunities. Take, for example, Brazil, which, with only a small
Muslim population, has become the world's largest halal
chicken exporter, responding to overseas demand.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization
2014, it rejected appealed EU ban on seal products, finding
that non-trade concerns, such as welfare, can restrict trade.
That concerns are spreading cannot be denied. As Dr.
Weeks points out, within Europe, welfare was a northern
European issue, but is now Europe-wide and extending through trade deals. In Australia, 15 years ago, 10
percent of egg production was free range - it is now 50
percent. As consumers demand more welfare, producers
must respond. ■
www.WATTAgNet.com ❙ June 2017