PIC Update - January 2014

A Critical Part of Doing Business - PIC and PAACO’s continued partnership meets a growing need in the poultry industry
Kimberly Sheppard
Friday, 13 December 2013
By Kimberly Sheppard
There are more people trained to ensure good poultry welfare on Canadian farms, thanks to the PAACO (Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization) Poultry Welfare Auditor Training Course, offered for the second time in Canada this past fall, in partnership with the Poultry Industry Council (PIC).

PAACO’s mission is: “To promote the humane treatment of animals through education and certification of animal auditors, as well as the review and certification of animal audit instruments, assessments and programs.” And while PAACO has been training poultry welfare auditors since 2006, the 2013 course was only the second offering in Canada.

The first Canadian offering of the course, organized by PIC in the fall of 2012, quickly sold out, and a number of hopefuls had to be placed on a waiting list. This year was also very well attended.

The popularity of the Poultry Welfare Auditor Training Course stems from the fact that it is all encompassing, applying to welfare criteria within and across all sectors of industry, and is offered locally.  

“We have producers and farmers, packers and processors, academia, government, and what we call ‘customers’ such as Sobeys and Walmart. They all require knowledge in welfare auditing, and they all have different reasons for being validated,” says Mike Simpson, PAACO executive director

“I would say about 40 per cent or more take the course purely for educational value, so that they are familiar with animal welfare issues, terminology and criteria,” continues Simpson. “For the remainder, they might want a PAACO certified auditor on staff because they are doing internal audits and want them done routinely with the same rigour and the same standards as would be expected in a third-party audit situation. In addition, they want assurance that when an official audit is done it is being done right. Important also would be training to become a third-party auditor.”

Importance in business
The PAACO Poultry Welfare Auditor Training Course is an important step toward proving business integrity to customers and consumers, but it also objectively assesses if, and where, there are any issues. Leanne Cooley of Gray Ridge Eggs Inc., and a member of the PIC board of directors, is a PAACO-certified poultry welfare auditor and holds a master of science in animal behaviour and welfare from the University of Guelph.  

“Canadian farmers have many excellent, existing on-farm programs that are achieving the goals and standards set out, and that should be maintained,” she says. However, Cooley feels that the Canadian food industry would benefit from more Canadian PAACO-certified auditors with good knowledge of Canadian animal agriculture and existing on-farm programs.

“If the goal is to truly improve animal welfare through the supply chain, then as an industry we need to ensure that all auditors, whether first, second or third party, are able to evaluate each farm and processor fairly, objectively, and equitably across Canada,” says Cooley. “This requires appropriate, standardized training and accreditation for all auditors, particularly in the area of live animal production and processing.”

In the course, students learn the commonly audited poultry welfare criteria, addressing the relevant welfare-specific areas for each of the commodity groups, including broilers, turkeys and egg layers and covering specific production segments: breeders, hatchery, grower/producer, transportation and processing.

Trainees also learn poultry husbandry and management best practices based on U.S. course material.  However, leading up to the first Canadian delivery of the course, PIC helped to revise the material to work with the Canadian poultry industry structure. The course is also largely in line with the Canadian Codes of Practice for the Care and Handling of Poultry. PAACO will ensure continued alignment in future course offerings, as the Codes are a nationally recognized standard of care across Canada.

The course runs over three days and begins with two days of classroom instruction, with the first day on management and husbandry related to welfare criteria and audits, and the second teaching trainees precisely how to audit those criteria. The third day is spent travelling to farms for audit demonstrations at broiler, layer and turkey facilities, followed by a closed-book exam. In addition, training for certification requires three shadow audits over a time period of 12 months, where trainees are evaluated by a certified and experienced auditor.

To learn more about becoming a PAACO Certified Poultry Welfare Auditor, please visit www.poultryindustrycouncil.ca or www.animalauditor.org.

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