The SPCA has given its blue certification badge to barn-raised chicken farms for the first time in New Zealand.
Ingham's is the first New Zealand company to meet the new, rigorous SPCA Certified animal welfare standards for barn-raised chickens.
Ingham's free-range chicken farms are already SPCA Certified. This means that 100 percent of Ingham's chicken farms are now SPCA Certified - another first for the New Zealand industry.
Ingham's Chief Executive, New Zealand, Ed Alexander, says it's a very satisfying achievement for a company that always has animal welfare as a top priority.
"We know Kiwis love their chicken. More than a third of all our meals with meat is chicken, and we also know how much Kiwis care about how animals are farmed in Aotearoa, so this was always an essential benchmark for us to reach. Especially to be the first to do so," said Alexander.
"We're proud to say that being SPCA Certified means all our chickens will have better lives. Our operations have always been welfare-focused, so this association with SPCA has motivated us to make tweaks we needed and wanted to. We can proudly bear the SPCA Certified blue badge on all our chicken meat products, which we hope sets a benchmark for the entire industry."
The 175 SPCA Certified criteria are specific, measurable, science-based chicken welfare standards with all required to be met by chicken farmers wanting to become SPCA Certified.
SPCA Certified standards significantly differ from the welfare of barn-raised chickens, especially when compared to the standard Code of Welfare for Meat Chickens required by law. Key examples include more space for chickens to be active, more and deeper quality dry litter for natural foraging activity and comfort, and more natural environmental features such as perching platforms and curiosity items to peck.
Four independent on-site audits per year ensuring SPCA standards are maintained (Non-SPCA Certified farms have no required on-site animal welfare audits)—increased ventilation for airflow and the reduction of ammonia levels in the air and dry litter.
It also requires more daily barn walk-throughs and chicken interactions with the farmer. And lastly, no hormones or antibiotics are used for growth promotion purposes.
National Manager SPCA Certified Kelly Drake said the SPCA was pleased to add barn-raised chicken farming to their growing list of SPCA Certified Animal Welfare partners.
"SPCA is delighted that Ingham's has become 100 percent SPCA Certified for all their free range and barn-raised meat chicken farms. This will mean millions more chickens live better lives on New Zealand farms, above and beyond the minimum requirements," said Drake.
Drake continued that by working alongside the farming industry, SPCA Certified can help raise the bar and drive continuous, meaningful improvement for New Zealand's animals.
"We are the only animal welfare certification programme in New Zealand independent from any industry body. We believe our members want the same as we do – healthy animals on their farms and businesses."
Ingham's barn-raised chicken meat products bearing the SPCA Certified blue badge will be available on supermarket shelves from November.