“Food safety is the most important priority for all of us in the food business and is supported by animal health and welfare best practice and continuing advancements in environmental sustainability.”

John Hazeldene
Managing Director, Hazeldene’s Chicken Farm Pty Ltd

6.3 Key industry drivers - Animal health

Endemic diseases

The great majority of meat chickens grown in Australia are grown under a long term contract with a processor. Processors may have from a dozen to well over 100 contract growers. Processors oversee the contract farms and provide day old chicks and feed as well as veterinary supervision and management advice.

Appropriate vaccination is carried out where required. Coccidiostats and antibiotics are used to manage common diseases where required to ensure birds remain healthy or to restore the health of sick flocks.

The chicken meat industry participates in the annual National Residue Survey, conducted by the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. This survey is funded by levies on participating industries. Chicken meat samples are tested for residues of a range of antibiotics (including ones which are not registered for use in poultry, as well as others which may be used in Australian chicken meat production), hormones (which are never used in Australian chicken meat production) and environmental contaminants.

The most recent National Residue Survey again demonstrates the chicken meat industry’s excellent record, complying 100 per cent within the Maximum Residue Standards set by Food Standards Australia New Zealand.

More information: www.daff.gov.au/agriculture-food/nrs

Emergency diseases, including exotic diseases

Australia has been able to maintain a very favourable animal health status largely due to its remote location and its island nature. For the chicken meat industry, this means that a range of quite common diseases that haunt the industry world-wide have not become established in commercial poultry flocks in Australia.

To keep these diseases out of the continent, Australia maintains strict quarantine requirements which are administered by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS). At farm level, a national effort across all livestock sectors to upholdbiosecurity measures to keep diseases out of farms is equally important. Disease surveillance is a further element of thisdefence. Furthermore, a formal arrangement involving federal and state governments and livestock industries has been established to ensure an effective and coordinated response to any outbreak of an exotic disease, such as avian influenza or Newcastle disease.

The industry contributes funding which pays for disease risk mitigation programs, training, disease preparedness and communication programs. The industry also has a formal agreement in place with Federal and State Governments setting out agreed management and cost sharing arrangements that would come into play in any emergency disease outbreak to contribute to funding the cost of managing or eradicating any outbreak.

All this preparatory work means that the industry can deal with any outbreak of an emergency disease in commercial chickens quickly and effectively.

More information: www.animalhealthaustralia.com.au

Copyright © 2012 Australian Chicken Meat Federation Inc.