Much of the code is common sense and is based on the health and welfare of the birds. These are conditions which must be adhered to by commercial poultry farmers and are monitored by the various regulatory authorities which govern the poultry industry and the resource management plans which are essential for all flocks of over 100 birds. However, I’m always surprised by owners of small flocks who believe the same codes do not apply to them.
The welfare codes for laying hens and meat chickens make interesting reading for both commercial and amateur flock owners, and answer many of the practical questions often asked, like the minimum amount of space required and everyday management practices.
The standards also cover the care and management of poultry, and in addition there are codes for other animals, including dairy and beef cattle, pigs, sheep, deer, dogs, cats, llamas, alpacas, ostriches, emus, and circus and zoo animals. The codes also outline the welfare issues around procedures connected with livestock such as docking lambs, slaughter and transport.
The codes form part of the Animal Welfare Act 1999 so they outline the minimum standards and also recommended best practices. If a person is charged under the Animal Welfare Act in relation to an offence, then evidence of a failure to meet relevant minimum standards in the applicable code or codes may be used to support the prosecution.
In defence of such a charge, evidence that you equalled or exceeded the minimum standards in the relevant code(s) may be included.