Great Grandparent hens start producing eggs from about 22 – 24 weeks of age and produce around 100 fertile eggs in their 52-week lifetime. Soya bean meal, which provides an important source of protein and amino acids in the chicken diet, is not usually available in sufficient quantities in Australia and has to be imported. 1950s Most chicken production was in the hands of backyard producers and larger family operations, who tended to produce chickens as an offshoot to egg production… Today, Australia’s largest poultry processing establishment kills and processes 104 million chickens per year, or 2 million chickens per week. They may initially be confined to a restricted area of the total barn (the ‘brooding area’), representing a quarter to a third of the entire floor area of the barn. Your local city, shire or town office can provide details. This summary of regulation covers important areas but is not exhaustive. This genetic gain has been achieved as a result of: Improved nutrition has also contributed to the rate of growth of today’s meat chickens. A good illustration of what selective breeding can achieve is the substantial difference between today’s meat chicken and a chicken bred for table eggs (a so-called layer hen). Distinct male and female lines of Parents are crossed to produce the next generation. This simple but effective mechanism has allowed all agricultural industries (grains, horticulture, dairy, meat etc.) In Australia, it is usual practice for a percentage of chickens to be harvested for processing on several occasions. Meat chicken diets are also supplemented with additional vitamins and minerals and, where necessary, other essential amino acids to ensure that the chickens’ very precise requirements for these nutrients are met. These companies typically contract out the growing of their chickens to independent chicken growers. For some examples of how breeding programs conducted over the past 30/40 years have improved some key welfare indicators of modern strains of meat chickens, see here. This happens from about 21 days of age onwards. Parent birds are kept until approximately 64 weeks, and produce about 160 fertile eggs. Barn sizes vary, but a typical new barn might be 150 metres long and 15 metres wide. In Australia, the grains mostly used are wheat and sorghum, because these are the most widely available grains. Chickens are the largest number of intensively farmed animals in Australia and also have the shortest life of all animals kept in intensive meat production. Breeder flocks are kept on the floor in barns. The main production systems are generally referred to as conventional (barn), free-range and organic. Chicken meat accredited under this program bears the logo shown above. This includes managing bird health, maintaining the correct composition and quantity of feed, and ensuring proper lighting, with the aims of ensuring that: The eggs from these flocks are collected and sent to a hatchery. The condition results from the substitution of muscle tissue with connective tissue and some fatty deposits. Required once chicks are adequately feathered, (unless specifically accredited to the Scheme’s Outdoor Access standards), 28-30kg/m2 depending on the standard of the ventilation provided in barns for FREPA accredited, 28-34kg/m2 depending on the standard of the ventilation provided in barns for RSPCA Outdoor Access accredited. The good news is that all these organisms are very easily killed by normal cooking temperatures. In “chemical free” processing, water is sanitised by exposure to UV light rather than by addition of chlorine, and carcases are cooled by exposure to a cold air stream rather than an iced water bath. While meat yield and the efficiency with which birds convert feed to meat are important factors, so are traits such as reproductive fitness and fertility and resistance to disease and metabolic conditions. The barn is often disinfected after cleaning, using low volumes of disinfectant which is sprayed throughout. Before you embark upon keeping your own poultry, it may be advisable to check with your local Council to make sure there are no regulations or restrictions placed on the keeping of poultry in your area. Corn fed – Corn fed chicken is produced, as the name suggests, by feeding chickens corn as part of their diet. The Australian Chicken Meat Federation Inc. (ACMF) is the peak coordinating body for participants in the chicken meat industry in Australia. It’s pretty damning that the ‘farming’ system implemented by the chicken meat industry results in the death of around 20 million chickens … In older, naturally ventilated barns, this is achieved by the farmer manually raising or lowering the side curtains or activating stirring fans and misters. Their size occurs naturally due to selective breeding and optimal nutrition. The fertile eggs they lay are hatched out in hatcheries to produce the next generation – the Grandparents of commercial meat chickens. The safest way to know whether the chicken meat is adequately cooked is to use a digital thermometer pierced into the thickest part of the meat. Many butchers and supermarkets sell Halal certified chicken meat. These quarantine arrangements aim to ensure exotic diseases do not enter Australia. These include free range, RSPCA-accredited and certified organic systems. Breeder feed contains higher levels of key vitamins and trace minerals, which impact on the hatchability of their eggs. Grain fed – While some suppliers may label their chicken “grain fed”, the reality is that the term could apply to all chickens produced in Australia, as all chickens are fed grains as the major part of their diet. One of the key elements of successful breeder farm management is maintaining good farm biosecurity. Developing new poultry genetics these days is a highly specialised and resource-intensive business.