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Code of Practice

Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Chickens

The concept of Codes of Practice started in 1980 when the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies began coordinating the process to develop Codes, which would set guidelines for the care and handling of all livestock species in Canada. The Canadian Agri-Food Research Council took over the process from 1993-2003 until the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) was formed and facilitated consultations for an updated Code process.

Today, the NFACC still leads the development of the Codes of Practice in Canada for the care and handling of farm animals. The Codes serve as our national understanding of animal care requirements and are developed with a diverse group of stakeholders including researchers, veterinarians, national animal welfare organizations and farmers.

While the Codes were thought to be just recommendations in the past, more recent Code editions have been enforced by the individual commodity groups through the development of animal care programs. For example, Chicken Farmers of Canada’s Raised by a Canadian Farmer Animal Care Program has credible, science-based foundations and it is designed based on the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Hatching Eggs, Breeders, Chickens and Turkeys, as developed by NFACC.

This mandatory program has been implemented on Canadian chicken farms since 2009 and is a national standard that ensures consistency on all chicken farms in Canada. The Raised by a Canadian Farmer Animal Care Program includes annual farm audits, uses enforcement mechanisms in cases of non-compliance and offers the additional assurance of being 3rd party audited.

The Code Development Process

The Code Development process involves multiple steps. The first step is the initiation of a Code Scientific Committee, comprised of experts including academia researchers, that performs a complete review of scientific literature to inform the development of the Code.

The input of the Code Scientific Committee is then used by the Code Development Committee to establish practical animal care codes for the industry. The membership on this Committee is comprised of veterinarians, government representatives, academia, animal welfare associations and farmers.

Prior to the finalization of the Code of Practice, a public consultation process is used to solicit input from the general public on the output of the Committee. In this way, all Canadians are able to contribute to the final Code.

The most recent Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Hatching Eggs, Breeders, Chickens and Turkeys was released in 2016.

The NFACC process has been developed to be inclusive of groups and organizations that support the use of animals in agriculture, and is the Canadian process for developing acceptable animal care standards for farm animals.

There are various animal care programs available and that are being promoted. The benefit of Chicken Farmers of Canada’s Animal Care Program is that it uses the credible and science-based NFACC development process. NFACC’s methodology uses the most recent animal care research and a solid collaboration of stakeholders from different perspectives to develop a Code of Practice that is robust and defensible.

For more information on the Codes, check out the NFACC’s newest videos:

Key features of the Code Development Process
Raising the Bar: The Codes of Practice Development Process