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Applying regulation EU1099/2009 within the poultry industry

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Several EU funded studies showed that the concern for animal welfare is one of the factors affecting the consumer’s choice of a product. There is a clear gap between consumer views and the day-to-day practice of killing animals on the farm in this regard. This can lead to public campaigning by welfare pressure groups against the poultry industry, resulting in public outrage with an unpredictable political, financial and economic outcome.

Not only poultry industry will be influenced negatively by consumer reactions in case the farmers would continue to neglect animal welfare in this sense. Therefore, it’s a clear task for animal welfare organizations, consumer organizations, branch organizations and retail organizations to actively support the farmers in their effort to applying Regulation EU 1099/2009.

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Applying regulation EU1099/2009 within the poultry industry

  1. 1. Applying Regulation EU 1099/2009 within the poultry industry Animal welfare and the poultry industry Animal welfare is a community value. The protection of animals is a matter of public concern that affects consumer attitudes towards agricultural products. In the survey, the EU acknowledged that although animal welfare is a worry for 64 % of the population, the animal-welfare-friendly way of dealing with sick and cripple chickens by using proper techniques that guarantee animal welfare during on-farm slaughter usually have a low share of the market. Despite the new regulation, chickens continue to be killed by taking them by their head and sling the body around. This method does not guarantee that the chicken is killed; in many cases, they are only paralyzed and unable to move, only appearing to be dead. Ignoring the implementation of EU Regulation 1099/2009, farmers can be fined and forced by the authorities to amend their standard procedures. In case farmers continue to ignore implementing EU Regulation 1099/2009 they can be forced to slow down or stop their operations. Several EU funded studies showed that the concern for animal welfare is one of the factors affecting the consumer’s choice of a product. There is a clear gap between consumer views and the day-to-day practiceof killing animals on the farm in this regard.This can lead to public campaigning by welfare pressure groups against the poultry industry, resulting in public outrage with an unpredictable political, financial and economic outcome. Not only poultry industry will be influenced negatively by consumer reactions in case the farmers would continue to neglect animal welfare in this sense. Therefore, it’s a clear task for animal welfare organizations, consumer organizations, branch organizations and retail organizations to actively support the farmersin their effort to applying Regulation EU 1099/2009. EC Regulation 1099/2009: Protection of animals at the time of killing On January 1, 2013 the Council Regulation (EC) No 1099/2009 became applicable throughout the EU. The regulation refers to the protection of animals at the time of aims at enhancing protection of animals at the time of slaughter or killing. It establishes standard operating procedures, training of personnel, the use of new equipment, etc. Moreover, the objective pursued by this regulation is to provide a level playing field within the internal market for all operators. This Regulation establishes rules applicable to the killing of animals kept for the production of food, wool, skin, fur, etc. It also lays down rules applicable to killing in emergencies and for the control of contagious diseases. Regulation EU 1099/2009 marks therefore a fundamental change in handling farm animals. With over 1,5 million poultry farm locations throughout the European Union, implementing these new regulations is not possible without the positive intention of the industry itself to fulfill the wishes of the European consumers to increase animal welfare, handling farm animals like poultry that lost their economic value because they became sick, cripple or unable to transport.
  2. 2. Applying Regulation EU 1099/2009 within the poultry industry Integration of animal welfare This Regulation introduces standard operating procedures for the welfare of animals at slaughter. Each operator is responsible for establishing and applying these operating procedures in order to spare animals for slaughter as much pain, distress or suffering as possible. In this context, operators should evaluate the efficiency of their stunning methods using indicators based on the animals. Regular monitoring will ensure in particular that stunned animals do not regain consciousness before slaughter. Manufacturers of restraining and stunning equipment should sell their equipment with instructions giving details in particular of the types of animals concerned and information on optimal use. Users must comply with manufacturers’ recommendations. For poultry, methods based on the principle of Hypoxia (methods based on replacing oxygen by a high concentration of gas), or Anoxia (methods based on the total absence of oxygen), are the most suitable for applying on the farm. Improving personnel competence Farmers have to ensure that the killing of chickens shall only be carried out by persons with the appropriate level of competence to do so without causing the animals any avoidable pain, distress or suffering. The farmer shall draw up and implement such standard operating procedures to ensure that killing and related operations are carried out in accordance with standard operating procedures. Other than for slaughterhouse personnel dealing with live animals, farm workers do not need a certificate of competence attesting that they have sufficient knowledge concerning animal welfare. Handling the killing of poultry on the farm according to EU 1099/2009 Although completely contrary to the new EU regulation, breaking of the neck – or cervical neck dislocation – is still the most common technique today to kill sick or cripple poultry on the farm. And since poultry production is under constant economical pressure, the farmers probably will not voluntarily adopt a better – more animal welfare friendly – method of culling to replace cervical neck dislocation. This is clearly in conflict EU 1099/2009 that describe the killing of poultry on the farm: – Article 1 describes that in general the regulation is valid for all production animals, that includes farms – Article 2, under d) describes the need to kill animals that are sick or injured and that suffer, without an alternative solution to treat these animals or to ease their pain or suffering – Article 19 declares that the animal holder has to be prepared to cull his animals in case of an emergency The specific stunning methods described are not directly referring to killing sick
  3. 3. Applying Regulation EU 1099/2009 within the poultry industry animals on the farm by the farmer are described in Annex 1, referring to Article 4:“Animals shall only be killed after stunning in accordance with the methods and specific requirements related to the application of those methods set out in Annex I”. Farmers might argue that they are still allowed to slaughter animals by cervical neck dislocation, as long as one person is not slaughtering more than 70 chickens per day and as long as the animals are not heavier than 3 kg. After all, Chapter II of Annex 1 states that: “No person shall kill by manual cervical dislocation or percussive blow to the head more than seventy animals per day” and “Manual cervical dislocation shall not be used on animals of more than three kg live weight”. What they ignore is what is stated in the first line: “These methods shall not be used as routine methods but only where there are no other methods available for stunning”, and “These methods shall not be used in slaughterhouses except as a back-up method for stunning.” In other words, cervical neck dislocation, or breaking the neck manually, can and may only be used as a second culling optionor backup, when other culling methods fail.This means that manual cervical neck dislocation is excluded as the first method of choice and that each poultry farm should be equipped with a technical method described in Annex 1. Mechanical- and electrical methods – lethal injection There are a number of techniques that can be used on the farm, but most of them are unpractical to apply, like: mechanical techniques (penetrating captive bold techniques, firearms); electrocution techniques (heads-only electrical stunning); and lethal injection (T61). In all these cases mentioned, special licenses’ are needed for applying these techniques (weapon license/veterinary license), and when animals are killed causing blooding, other EU Directives are valid as well, such as EU 1069/2009 (prevent and minimize public- and animal health risks; hygiene requirements). The Non-penetrative captive bolt device can be used, but it needs well-trained staff to apply this technique correctly. Besides that, it needs two persons to carry out the procedure, to avoid for instance the fracture of the scull. Hypoxia and Anoxia The most common technique to kill poultry on the farm is to use gasses. These techniques were developed during recent outbreaks of Avian Influenza and are now available on the European market to kill animals on the farm. In case a high concentration of Carbon Dioxide is used, the killing is based on the principle of hypoxia: the replacement of atmospheric air by a concentration of more than 40% Co2 in a controlled environmentlike a container. Recently a new technique has been introduced, based on the principle of Anoxia: the total absence of Oxygen. This technique guarantees that poultry is killed within 1 minute without any form of additional stress or pain.

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