An Independent Poultry Panel has finalised the development of proposed new Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poultry which phases out battery cages over the next 10 to 15 years.
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Murray Watt said the proposed standards balanced contemporary animal welfare science with feedback from an extensive engagement process that was part of the independent review.
"These standards cover a range of welfare requirements for poultry including chickens, ducks, pigeons and emus," Minister Watt said.
"It proposes the phase out of conventional chicken cages, commonly known as battery cages, over the next 10 to 15 years.
"States and Territory governments must now look at the standards with all agriculture ministers to consider next steps by early 2023.
"It is my hope that all states and territories will work together to ensure nationally consistent regulations for poultry.
"This will provide certainty for industry, allow producers to plan for the future and assure the public that Australia's poultry standards balance contemporary science and community expectations."
Other proposed changes include the provision of water to all ducks, environmental stimulation for breeding chickens, and improvements to the minimum light intensity and required periods of darkness, ventilation, and temperature parameters for all poultry species.
Minister Watt said there was strong interest in the standards following 167,000 public submissions during the consultation period.
"The poultry standards are part of a suite of animal welfare standards and guidelines that aim to harmonise animal welfare legislation and provide clarity and consistency for industry and consumers," he said.
"The new standards will also assure Australia's trading partners that we have strong standards of animal welfare."
In the 2021-2022 financial year, Australian hens laid 6.3 billion eggs, worth $1.1 billion in supermarket sales. The annual value of chicken meat production is over $2.85 billion. Australians consume more chicken meat per capita than any other kind of meat.