"We want to continuously raise the bar in animal welfare to ensure animals are treated with respect,” said Susan Senecal, president and chief operating officer at A&W Canada. “Today, we have elevated our standards to include some new ones. It all adds up to a better life."
Under A&W’s new requirements, producers must:
- Introduce physical enhancements that best allow for natural bird behaviour, while preserving an antibiotic-free environment.
- Ensure a minimum of six hours of darkness in the barn so chickens can rest better at night.
- Ensure barn density levels meet or exceed the standard set out in the Global Animal Partnership Step Level 2.
A flock health care plan and qualified veterinary care is currently required at each of A&W's supplier farms to maintain flock health, which is actively monitored.
A&W uses breeds of birds that can thrive in the barns with optimal health. These birds are raised to a weight best for maintaining mobility and leg and foot health. The company understands that the University of Guelph is undertaking a study to determine whether there may be breeds of chickens better suited for Canadian farms. A&W looks forward to the results of this study.
All of A&W's farmers work to ensure that the birds have ample room to roam, with the majority of barns operating at a density well below the industry requirement, providing lots of space to range.
A&W currently has stringent standards for the humane handling of birds for euthanasia and has already begun working with its suppliers to adopt controlled atmosphere stunning. This process reduces the individual handling of the birds. The company has committed to a complete conversion to this enhanced method as quickly as possible and no later than the end of 2022.
All A&W suppliers are currently required to have annual third party audits by qualified professional animal auditors to ensure compliance to A&W's standards.