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What are the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme standards for meat chickens?

Article ID: 344
Last updated: 04 Feb, 2019
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The RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme Standards - Meat chickens have been developed by RSPCA Australia to improve the welfare of meat chickens in Australia on farm, during transport and at slaughter. The Standards cover various aspects of meat chicken production including food and water, environment and housing, stocking density, management and health, catching, transport and slaughter in order to ensure good animal welfare outcomes for the birds throughout their lives.

The Standards are informed by RSPCA policy, available scientific research, current legislation, codes of practice, standards and guidelines for animal welfare, veterinary and technical advice and current industry good practice.

For a meat chicken farm to become Approved under the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme, an RSPCA Assessor must visit the farm to determine it is meeting the requirements of the Standards. Once Approved, the farm will receive regular visits from an Assessor (every 3 to 6 months) to assess their compliance with the Standards.

In Australia, meat chickens are generally raised in large environmentally controlled sheds that may or may not provide access to an outdoor range area. Both indoor and outdoor production systems can be Approved under the Scheme as the RSPCA believes that either system, when managed accordingly, can provide for the behavioural and physiological needs of the birds. 

Meat chickens grown on an RSPCA Approved farm, transported and slaughtered in accordance with the Standards can then be marketed with the RSPCA logo. To find out where you can purchase RSPCA Approved chicken, visit the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme website.

Some of the requirements of the RSPCA meat chicken standards include:

  • Adequate food and water that provides for the birds’ requirements must be provided at all times.
  • Chickens must be provided with;
  • good quality litter (at least 50mm deep), maintained in a dry and friable condition, to allow for the birds' behavioural needs to dust bathe, scratch and forage
  • adequate perch space of at least 2.7m per 1000 birds
  • environmental enrichment in the form of pecking objects
  • Maximum stocking density of 34kg per meter square
  • Provision of adequate light and dark periods (minimum 8 hours light and 4 hours continuous darkness in every 24-hour period)
  • Minimum average light intensity of 20 lux across the shed at bird height
  • Ammonia levels must not exceed 15ppm
  • Weak, ill or injured birds must be humanely euthanased without delay.
  • Birds must be monitored for signs of lameness, abnormal behaviour or disease, and action taken to rectify the situation if possible, and prevent it occurring in future flocks.
  • Accurate records of mortalities, routine management practices and health challenges must be maintained and available to the RSPCA.
  • All persons involved in handling and catching birds must be appropriately trained and competent.
  • Birds must be stunned prior to slaughter

To learn more about the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme or to download a copy of the Standards, please visit our website.

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Also listed in
folder Farm animals
folder Farm animals -> Animal management
folder Farm animals -> Chickens

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