Better standards needed to prevent cruelty to chickens in egg industry: RSPCA

The distressing footage shown on the ABC’s 7.30 program last night is a snapshot of the widespread and systemic problems in the egg production industry that must be addressed with stronger standards and better enforcement.

RSPCA Australia poultry welfare scientist Dr Kate Hartcher was interviewed for the program, and said the footage clearly shows catastrophic failure of the slaughter process.

Birds that had not been properly stunned and slaughtered were visibly conscious and would have been in excruciating pain as they entered the scalding tank.

The RSPCA believes all abattoirs should be equipped with CCTV monitoring, employ a dedicated animal welfare officer, and face regular independent scheduled and unscheduled animal welfare audits. 

While practices at this abattoir must be addressed as a matter of urgency, this is sadly not an isolated incident.

The footage points to a bigger issue of the overwhelming failure of industry standards to protect the welfare of poultry.

This story has emerged as the Standards and Guidelines for the welfare of poultry are being reviewed for the first time in 15 years.

The RSPCA has been vocal in its criticism of these Standards review process, which has resulted in Standards that are not strong enough and not based in science.

The draft Standards and Guidelines are expected to be released for public consultation any day now, and the RSPCA will be urging state governments and the wider public to help ensure they are changed to reflect the current science and community expectations.