Standards for flock health, housing and euthanasia among upgrades to supplier requirements. 

VANCOUVER, BC – A&W Food Services of Canada Inc. announced changes to the company’s animal welfare standards for broiler chickens. “We want to continuously raise the bar in animal welfare to ensure animals are treated with respect,” Susan Senecal, president and COO at A&W Canada, said in a statement. “Today, we have elevated our standards to include some new ones. It all adds up to a better life.”

In addition to providing birds with ample access to fresh air, food and water, the company now will require growers to provide enriched environments that allow for natural bird behavior while maintaining the antibiotic-free standard. Birds must be given a minimum of six hours of darkness in barns so the chickens can rest better at night.

Birds supplied to A&W are humanely raised in large barns where lighting, air quality and cleanliness are monitored and clean litter is provided. New requirements mean farmers must maintain flock density levels that meet or exceed the Global Animal Partnership Step Level 2 standard.

On flock health standards, A&W said birds the company uses can thrive in large barns. However, the Univ. of Guelph is studying whether other breeds of chickens may be better suited for Canadian farms. A&W said the company looks forward to the study results.

A&W has embraced the use of controlled atmosphere stunning (CAS) as a means of humane euthanasia. “This process reduces the individual handling of the birds,” the company said in a statement. “The company has committed to a complete conversion to this enhanced method as quickly as possible and no later than the end of 2022.”