ANIMAL WELFAREOur Commitment
Cara is committed to the humane treatment of animals, and to working with Canadian farmers to achieve this goal. We are proud of our partners, who maintain strict animal welfare standards that meet and exceed industry guidelines. We are also committed to continuous improvement and annually reviewing our expectations from our supply chain.Zero Tolerance on Animal Cruelty
We take animal welfare seriously and we do not tolerate animal cruelty in our supply chain. Animal abuse is a criminal act in Canada, and violators should be reported and prosecuted. As part of our commitment to the humane treatment of animals, we will continue to correct and take action against any party in our industry that doesn’t follow the letter or spirit of our commonly held rules.
CAGE FREE EGGS
A number of Cara’s brands have committed to using only 100 percent cage-free eggs in 2016, with all Cara brands transitioning to 100 percent cage-free eggs by 2020.
BROILER CHICKEN WELFARE
Cara is committed to promoting the humane raising and harvesting of broiler chickens.
We are proud of the following standards to which our partners in the Canadian chicken farm industry adhere:
Hormone and Steroid Free
All broiler chickens raised in Canada live in an open barn environment without the use of hormones or steroids.
All Canadian chicken farmers are mandated to follow the standards for broiler chicken welfare strictly defined in Chicken Farmers of Canada’s (CFC) Animal Care Program. CFC’s Animal Care Program is built on the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) Canadian Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Hatching Eggs, Breeders, Chickens and Turkeys. NFACC is an authority on national farm animal care.
Canada’s unique, science-based animal welfare code was developed with input from farmers, veterinarians, researchers, processors, the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and Agriculture Canada, along with consultation and comment from the Canadian public. It is implemented at the farm level on a mandatory basis by all chicken farmers in Canada.
The NFACC Code was updated in 2016 through a comprehensive multi-stakeholder process and based on the best independent, peer-reviewed science available. The NFACC Code is continuously reviewed and updated to reflect advancements in science, technology, and animal husbandry. Compliance with the CFC’s Animal Care Program, which is supported by The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, is mandatory, unlike the United States where there is no mandatory industry code of practice.
Annual Independent Third Party Audit
All Canadian chicken farmers are audited annually and held to the same high standard to support the effective and consistent implementation of the Animal Care Program. CFC’s Animal Care Program undergoes an annually 3rd party audit by trained third-party auditors certified to Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization (PAACO) standards. This third party audit covers implementation of the program on-farm, auditor consistency and the management of the system at both the provincial and national levels.
The stocking density standard for chickens in Canada, based on the NFACC Code, is amongst the lowest in the world. It dictates that density must not normally exceed 31 kg/m2, lower than requirements in the United States, Australia and European Union. This provides chickens ample room to roam and express normal behaviours.
Cleanliness and Air Quality
Litter - CFC’s mandatory On-Farm Food Safety Assurance Program requires that chicken barns are fully cleaned after each flock and fresh bedding is placed into the barns. This requirement exceeds those requirements in other countries, and the cleaning and fresh bedding cycle helps to limit ammonia build up in barns, providing better air quality for the flock. Bedding helps to provide opportunities for birds to express normal behaviours (e.g. scratching, foraging and dust bathing).
Air Quality - The NFACC Code requires that corrective action be taken if ammonia levels reach between 20-25ppm. Barns are highly automated to control the environment in the barn. Air quality, temperature, and humidity are strictly monitored and controlled.
Lighting is an important management tool that farmers utilize to ensure optimum health and welfare. Birds need darkness for melatonin production, skin regeneration, and sleep. The NFACC Code stipulates that chickens should be given a minimum of four hours of continuous darkness with a recommendation of six hours. While many farmers already meet or exceed the recommended six hours, Cara is working with our approximately 1,300 chicken farmers in Canada to provide at least six hours of darkness. It is our vision that this will be fully implemented by 2024.
Light intensity is also very important for bird health, and Cara is committed to requiring suppliers to provide at least 20 lux of light during daytime hours by 2024 pending any findings from a University of Saskatchewan study to determine the impact of barn lighting on broiler chickens beginning this fall. Cara is looking forward to those findings and will continue to work with our industry stakeholders to adopt lighting standards based on the best available science.
Cara is working with our approximately 1,300 chicken farmers in Canada, CFC, and NFACC to have enrichments added to the NFACC Code. These include provisions such as straw bales, perches, and pecking substrates. It is our vision that this will be fully implemented by 2024.
Controlled Atmosphere Stunning
Certain Cara suppliers have already begun the transition to controlled atmosphere stunning. This more humane way of stunning allows for less handling of the birds, which causes them less stress. Cara commits to have its suppliers continue the conversion to this humane method with a vast majority of its suppliers completed by 2022 and all suppliers by 2024.
Cara requires suppliers to ensure the safe handling of live birds. All of our suppliers’ catching crews must sign an employee code of conduct and receive training in the safe handling of birds. This training will take place at a minimum of once per year and all new employees must complete training before working in the field. These standards and procedures will be audited at least twice a year. Any abuses will not be tolerated and violators should be prosecuted.
New Strains of Broiler Chickens
In Canada, there are two dominant strains of broiler chickens, Ross 308 and Cobb 500. These strains have evolved over the years to improve animal welfare, including leg strength and overall livability. The University of Guelph is expected to start a multi-year study of various genetic variations in chickens in the fall of 2017. We are hopeful this study will provide a further evolution for improved animal welfare and allow industry sustainability. If it meets those goals, Cara’s intends to work with NFACC and CFC to transition to this new strain.
Cara Supports Canadian Chicken Farmers
Cara is also a strong supporter of Canada’s farm community and the approximately 2,800 chicken farmers from coast to coast of which the vast majority are family owned and operated. Presently, Cara is supplied by roughly 1,300 chicken farmers spanning all 10 Provinces across Canada. The chicken industry in Canada presently employees approximately 87,000 Canadians.
Meet Canada’s Chicken Farmers www.chickenfarmers.ca/farmers/