May 27, 2020 -
Animal welfare is a top priority for the Ontario chicken industry. Industry recognizes that extreme environmental conditions may not support the humane transportation of chicken. Industry stakeholders need to be prepared in advance with procedures for determining bird fitness for catching, loading and transport in hot and humid weather.
Consultation among industry stakeholders, including farmers, catchers, transporters and processors during extreme heat and humidity is essential for making the appropriate judgment call regarding loading and transportation. Suggested best practices dictate participation in animal welfare training such as the required Animal Care Program for CFO farmer-members, the Canadian Livestock Transport (CLT) Certification Program for transporters, and the OMAFRA broiler catching course for catchers, transporters and processors.
Industry stakeholders should be able to recognize visible signs of heat stress. These include wing spreading, open mouth breathing, increased water intake, increased mortality, wet droppings, reduced feed intake, and in the later stages, staggering and terminal convulsions. Extreme weather conditions may require procedural modification. Consider the effects of altering flock density and stocking density, adjusting the time when birds are loaded to avoid the midday sun, reducing catching and transport time and rescheduling processing for an alternate date.
For more detailed information on best industry practices, please CLICK HERE to refer to the Loading and Transportation of Broiler Chickens in Ontario During Extreme Heat and Humidity resource, and ensure that you are giving bird welfare careful consideration this summer season.
Additional resources for animal welfare best practices during loading and transportation: