A&W to invest in broiler chicken welfare research

by MEAT+POULTRY Staff
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VANCOUVER – A&W Canada committed to contributing C$45,000 (US$33,485) to a Univ. of Saskatchewan research project that will examine the effects of lighting on the mobility, behavior and physiological welfare of broiler chickens.

This fall, the university’s Dr. Karen Schwean-Lardner, a leading authority on poultry barn lighting, will expand data collection on the impacts of energy efficient LED lighting on broiler chicken welfare and production. Schwean-Lardner and her team will examine the differences LED lights make on poultry behavior, welfare and health outcomes. Incandescent lighting has been phased out and much less is known about the welfare and behavioral impacts of LED lighting.

“The Univ. of Saskatchewan is committed to research that will continue to reinforce Canada’s leadership in poultry welfare,” Dr. Schwean-Lardner said in a statement. “Partners like A&W share a commitment to new research that can contribute to the development of new best practices.”

Dr. Schwean-Lardner served as the Chair of the Scientific Committee for the Canadian Poultry Code of Practice, as well as serving in the Poultry Code Development Committee through the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC). The NFACC’s Code of Practice development process ensures scientific rigor, stakeholder collaboration and a consistent approach to farm animal care. 

In March, A&W announced enhanced animal welfare standards for farm-raised broiler chickens. The standards include:

  • Introduction of physical enhancements that best allow for natural bird behavior, while preserving an antibiotic-free environment;
  • Ensure a minimum of six hours of darkness in the barn so chickens can rest better at night;
  • A flock health care plan and qualified veterinary care;
  • Barn density levels that meet or exceed the standard set out in the Global Animal Partnership Step Level 2;
  • Adoption of controlled atmosphere stunning no later than the end of 2022; and
  • Annual third-party audits to ensure compliance.

“At A&W we are constantly impressed with the leadership work Karen Schwean-Lardner and the Univ. of Saskatchewan are doing in poultry welfare,” said Trish Sahlstrom, senior vice president and Chief Commercial Officer at A&W Canada. “We are proud to make a financial contribution to this research to allow the research team to further their understanding of LED barn lighting.”

1 Canadian dollar = $0.74 US

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